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Red Headed Stranger
     

Red Headed Stranger

by Willie Nelson
 

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Willie Nelson has had too distinguished a career for any one song or album to define it, but Red Headed Stranger comes close. Released in 1975, this ambitious concept album was an alternative to the formulaic Nashville system and launched a fertile breeding ground for new voices and new styles rooted in country music's oldest traditions (Americana, alt country,

Overview

Willie Nelson has had too distinguished a career for any one song or album to define it, but Red Headed Stranger comes close. Released in 1975, this ambitious concept album was an alternative to the formulaic Nashville system and launched a fertile breeding ground for new voices and new styles rooted in country music's oldest traditions (Americana, alt country, No Depression, whatever). It's a folk album, a blues album, a gospel album, a traditional country album that Willie wrought, and a journey of Homeric proportions. Sure enough, Willie takes us into the soul of a wanderer looking for love, searching for spiritual shelter where he can find it. The music is stark and spare; you remember the sting of Willie's aggressively plucked guitar lines, the unsettling ambiance created by harmonica, and the alternately tender and boisterous piano support -- and, as always, Willie's wonderful, bedraggled, sophisticated singing. Yes, there's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," but there's also a moving interpretation of the gospel standard, "Just as I Am," and a powerful, heartbreaking reading of Hank Cochran's "Can I Sleep in Your Arms." Four bonus tracks offer everything from a beautiful treatment of "Bach Minuet in G" (from which the Toys' "Lover's Concerto" had derived its melody, years earlier) to a keenly insightful take on Bob Wills's "Maiden's Prayer." It's possible that these previously unissued tracks make Red Headed Stranger an even stronger album than the original release. But how, exactly, does one improve upon perfection?

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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.
Rolling Stone - Adam Bresnick
Stranger established Nelson’s outlaw persona and put some guts back into country music.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/04/2000
Label:
Sbme Special Mkts.
UPC:
0889853353224
catalogNumber:
533532
Rank:
4777

Tracks

  1. Time of the Preacher
  2. I Couldn't Believe It Was True
  3. Time of the Preacher Theme
  4. Blue Rock Montana/Red Headed Stranger
  5. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
  6. Red Headed Stranger
  7. Time of the Preacher Theme
  8. Just as I Am
  9. Denver
  10. O'er the Waves
  11. Down Yonder
  12. Can I Sleep in Your Arms
  13. Remember Me (When the Candle Lights Are Gleaming)
  14. Hands on the Wheel
  15. Bandera
  16. Bach Minuet in G
  17. I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)
  18. A Maiden's Prayer
  19. Bonaparte's Retreat

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