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Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger

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Red Headed Stranger

Willie Nelson

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Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger perhaps is the strangest blockbuster country produced, a concept album about a preacher on the run after murdering his departed wife and her new lover, told entirely with brief song-poems and utterly minimal backing. It's defiantly anticommercial and it demands intense concentration -- all reasons why nobody thought it would be a hit, a story related in Chet Flippo's liner notes to the 2000 reissue. It was a phenomenal blockbuster, though, selling millions of copies, establishing Nelson as a superstar recording artist in its own right. For all its success, it still remains a prickly, difficult album, though, making the interspersed concept of Phases and Stages sound shiny in comparison. It's difficult because it's old-fashioned, sounding like a tale told around a cowboy campfire. Now, this all reads well on paper, and there's much to admire in Nelson's intimate gamble, but it's really elusive, as the themes get a little muddled and the tunes themselves are a bit bare. It's undoubtedly distinctive -- and it sounds more distinctive with each passing year -- but it's strictly an intellectual triumph and, after a pair of albums that were musically and intellectually sound, it's a bit of a letdown, no matter how successful it was.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Red Headed Stranger

Willie Nelson

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1
Time of the Preacher
00:02:25

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Producer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

2
I Couldn't Believe It Was True
00:01:32

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - E. Arnold, Composer, Lyricist - W. Fowler, Composer, Lyricist - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

3
Time of the Preacher Theme
00:01:13

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Producer - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

4
Medley: Blue Rock Montana / Red Headed Stranger
00:01:35

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Producer - Carl Stutz, Composer, Lyricist - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Edith Lindeman, Composer, Lyricist - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

5
Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain
00:02:21

Willie Nelson, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - Fred Rose, Composer, Lyricist - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

6
Red Headed Stranger
00:03:59

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - Carl Stutz, Composer, Lyricist - Phil York, Engineer - Edith Lindeman, Composer, Lyricist - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

7
Time of the Preacher Theme
00:00:26

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Producer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

8
Just as I Am
00:01:48

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - William Bradbury, Composer - Charlotte Elliott, Lyricist - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

9
Denver
00:00:53

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Producer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

10
O'er the Waves
00:00:47

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Producer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

11
Down Yonder
00:01:56

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - L. W. Gilbert, Composer, Lyricist - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

12
Can I Sleep in Your Arms
00:05:23

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - Hank Cochran, Composer, Lyricist - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

13
Remember Me (When the Candle Lights Are Gleaming)
00:02:52

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - Scott Wiseman, Composer, Lyricist - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

14
Hands on the Wheel
00:04:22

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Producer - B. Callery, Composer, Lyricist - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

15
Bandera
00:02:15

Willie Nelson, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Producer - Jody Payne, Guitar, Mandolin - Bucky Meadows, Guitar - Paul English, Drums - Billy English, Drums - Bobbie Nelson, Piano - Bee Spears, Bass - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Phil York, Engineer - Joseph M. Palmaccio, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger perhaps is the strangest blockbuster country produced, a concept album about a preacher on the run after murdering his departed wife and her new lover, told entirely with brief song-poems and utterly minimal backing. It's defiantly anticommercial and it demands intense concentration -- all reasons why nobody thought it would be a hit, a story related in Chet Flippo's liner notes to the 2000 reissue. It was a phenomenal blockbuster, though, selling millions of copies, establishing Nelson as a superstar recording artist in its own right. For all its success, it still remains a prickly, difficult album, though, making the interspersed concept of Phases and Stages sound shiny in comparison. It's difficult because it's old-fashioned, sounding like a tale told around a cowboy campfire. Now, this all reads well on paper, and there's much to admire in Nelson's intimate gamble, but it's really elusive, as the themes get a little muddled and the tunes themselves are a bit bare. It's undoubtedly distinctive -- and it sounds more distinctive with each passing year -- but it's strictly an intellectual triumph and, after a pair of albums that were musically and intellectually sound, it's a bit of a letdown, no matter how successful it was.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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