Seven Spanish Angels: Romance, Violence and Absolution in the West

Willie Nelson and Ray Charles (screencap of a live performance)

“Seven Spanish Angels” When I pick up the guitar to sing, I like to launch into the long ballads. The melody sinks in to me through repetition. The lyrics, many refined over time by unknown self-appointed editors, flow out. If I’m lucky, I discover something new inside them. I let … → read more

The Time of the Preacher — Red Headed Stranger, Pt. 2

This is our second post on Nelson’s classic murder ballad concept album Red Headed Stranger. Read the first one here. Now the preaching is over and the lesson’s begun As I hope was clear from the previous post, Willie Nelson’s creative enhancements to “The Tale of the Red Headed Stranger” by Carl … → read more

Red Headed Stranger

Album cover for Red Headed Stranger (1975) Introduction Taking up Willie Nelson’s iconic 1975 album Red Headed Stranger is a prospect both daunting and straightforward. It is the landmark murder ballad concept album, and launched Nelson into superstardom. Despite thematic and stylistic differences, it is like Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On? or Van … → read more

Sonora’s Death Row

Old West saloon I’m halfway tempted to try a few stiff shots of tequila before writing this post. OK, perhaps more than halfway tempted. I haven’t yet gotten to the point of the having the first, but perhaps you’ll be able to tell if and when I do. The key … → read more