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?