Red Headed Stranger – Willie Nelson


Vinyl LP

From Wikipedia:

Red Headed Stranger is the eighteenth studio album by American outlaw country singer Willie Nelson, released in 1975. Following the success of his recordings with Atlantic Records, coupled with the negotiating skills of his manager, Neil Reshen, Nelson signed a contract with Columbia Records, the label that gave him total creative control over his works. The concept for the album was inspired by the “Tale of the Red Headed Stranger“, a song that Nelson used to play as a disc jockey on his program in Fort Worth, Texas. After signing with Columbia, he decided to record the song, and arranged the details during his return to Austin, Texas, from a trip to Colorado. It was recorded at low cost at Autumn Sound Studios in Garland, Texas. The songs featured sparse arrangements, largely limited to Nelson’s guitar, piano, and drums. Nelson presented the finished material to Columbia executives, who were dubious about releasing an album that they at first thought was a demo. However, Nelson had creative control, so no further production was added.

A concept album, Red Headed Stranger is about a fugitive on the run from the law after killing his wife and her lover. The content consists of songs with brief poetic lyrics and arrangements of older material such as Fred Rose‘s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain“, Wolfe Gilbert‘s “Down Yonder“, and Juventino Rosas‘ “O’er the Waves“. Despite Columbia’s doubts and the limited instrumentation, Red Headed Stranger was a blockbuster among country music and mainstream audiences. It was certified multiple-platinum, and made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. The cover of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, released as a single before the album, became Nelson’s first number-one hit. The title of the album became a lasting nickname for Nelson. It was ranked number 183 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[1] and number one on CMT‘s 40 Greatest Albums in Country Music. In 2010, it was inducted to the National Recording Registry.

In 1986, Nelson starred as the Red Headed Stranger in a movie of the same name, based on the story of the album. The album has had a strong cultural impact; the song “Time of the Preacher” was used often in the British television miniseries Edge of Darkness, and its lyrics were used in the first issue of the comic Preacher.

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Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Time of the Preacher” Willie Nelson 2:26
2. “I Couldn’t Believe It Was True” Eddy Arnold, Wally Fowler 1:32
3. “Time of the Preacher Theme” Nelson 1:13
4. “Blue Rock Montana” / “Red Headed Stranger” (medley) Nelson / Carl Stutz, Edith Lindeman 1:36
5. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain Fred Rose 2:18
6. Red Headed Stranger Carl Stutz, Lindeman 4:00
7. “Time of the Preacher Theme” Nelson 0:25
8. Just As I Am Charlotte Elliott, William B. Bradbury 1:45
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Denver” Nelson 0:53
2. O’er the Waves Juventino Rosas, arranged by Willie Nelson 0:47
3. Down Yonder” (played by Bobbie Nelson) L. Wolfe Gilbert 1:56
4. Can I Sleep in Your Arms Hank Cochran 5:24
5. “Remember Me (When the Candle Lights Are Gleaming)” Scotty Wiseman 2:52
6. “Hands on the Wheel” Bill Callery 4:22
7. “Bandera” Nelson 2:19