In Her Heart is a Song — Red Headed Stranger, Pt. 3

Carla Bozulich We noted in the previous installments (1 and 2) how Willie Nelson’s 1975 album Red Headed Stranger (Spotify) represents the realization of a distinctive artistic vision. It challenged the conventional wisdom of the recording industry when it was released. One of the things that made it so distinctive was that … → 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

The Devil’s Right Hand – Highwaymen and Songs of the Road

The Highwaymen–Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson This is the second post this week on Steve Earle’s “The Devil’s Right Hand.” See the first post here. Today’s post reviews some of the covers of Earle’s song, and we wrap up with a serendipitous find from The Jason Paulson … → read more

Sing Me Back Home

Merle Haggard‘s 1968 hit, “Sing Me Back Home” gives us three chords and the truth about compassion and the power of music. In it, we hear forgiveness and reconciliation, but with an unwavering certainty of outcome. There is clinging to life, but an acceptance of death. It is about the … → read more

Woody at 100 – The Philadelphia Lawyer

Woody Guthrie would have been one hundred years old this Saturday, July 14, 2012.  Certainly there will be a great deal of writing, speaking, and (as no doubt Woody would have wanted it) singing to celebrate his centennial.  That’s as it should be.  Woody is beloved world-wide, and is immensely … → read more

Outlaws, Bandits, and Troubadours

Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt After such a long post last time, I plan for this one to be long on music and short on text.  If there’s a narrative to capture here, it’s that I think “Pancho and Lefty” has become a favorite for singer-songwriters and performers following … → read more