Tuesday, August 7, 2012

184 Red Headed Stranger. Freckles optional

Album: Red Headed Stranger
Artist: Willie Nelson
Genre: Country
Year: 1975


  1. Time of the Preacher
  2. I Couldn't Believe It Was True
  3. Time of the Preacher Theme
  4. Medley: 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
  14. Hands on the Wheel
  15. Bandera
There are two things I traditionally don't like. The first is country music. I'm just not a fan of country. Many of my worst nightmares have country as a soundtrack.

The second thing I generally can't stand is the concept album. Stringing songs together to give them some kind of unified theme usually means taking a few good songs and padding them out with a lot of pointless filler which is supposed to set the mood but are usually just bits lifted from a sound effects library and played on a loop.

So a country concept album is like a melding of my two least favourite things. It's like a clown-baby for someone who is afraid of clowns and babies. It's an eight-legged Mike Tyson for a racist arachnophobic. It's a dentist with a drill made of sharks for people who... nevermind you get the picture. The point is I shouldn't like this. But it turns out I do. Because of Willie.

Willie Nelson has a fantastic voice doesn't he? The man's tones are just dulcet. If someone handed me a pair of tongs and said "go grab me some dulcet" I'd have them down Willie's throat quicker than you can say "National icon abuse". He doesn't give his voice an affected country twang or move out of his range, he has one of the most natural voices in all of music and it's lovely to listen to.

Nelson also knows his strength and appreciates that his music doesn't need any embellishment to work. He doesn't have to cram the vinyl grooves with pedal steel and backing vocals he only needs simple instrumentation to get his message across.

Consequently Red Headed Stranger is a really pleasant listen. It's an honest man with a brilliant voice playing songs that mean something to him that actually benefit from an ongoing narrative. The tracks are a mixture of covers and originals but they all sound like Willie (don't snigger at the back). He makes them his own and makes them great.

Best country album on the countdown so far. Best concept album on the countdown. One of the best voices in the top 500. Give it a try.

Highlight: Willie's voice
Lowlight: Denver

Influenced by: The road
Influenced: Alt-country

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I had this record many years ago (in the '70s) and was very happy to find it on ebay."

-I'm not sure Amazon would be thrilled to have you promoting the competition on their site.

So are you happy to have met this stranger or wish you'd remained estranged?


  1. Hate to be pedantic, but you made an error as you typed in one instance "Red Headed Woman" instead of "Red Headed Stranger."

    As for the album itself, I haven't heard it (and I do kind of want to get it), but did you know that the title "Red Headed Stranger" is a reference to Willie himself?

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, I always appreciate extra proofreading so feel free to spot any other errors. I correct them whenever they're brought to my attention.

      I did know about the Red Headed Stranger being a reference to Willie, quite a cool title I thought.