Willie Nelson, the star who wasn't supposed to be

I've got a couple of his Greatest Hits albums, and when I play them for visitors it's interesting to see how involving they are. What are some of Willie's favorites for you?
I like "Willie and Family Live" and "Stardust" a lot. Interestingly, they were both originally recorded in 1978. I'm an admitted Willie fan, but I don't actually own much of his stuff (I should remedy that...). I do own the 3 disk "Revolutions of Time" collection and think it is fantastic!

Some of my favorite Willie songs are "Whiskey River, Stay a Little Longer, It's not Supposed to be That Way and Angel Flying too Close to the Ground". IMHO, all are best Live....


For old stuff, my favorite is Red Headed Stranger (1978) -- elegant in its own, very spare way; lyrical and moving. A great and pure Western album. For "newer" stuff, I think Across The Borderline (1993) has many terrific tunes on it, with covers of Hiatt, Lovett, Dylan, P Simon, Cooder included. The few or handful of duets on it are very nicely done. Don Was, producer, gets a really nice sound out of the sessions.
So much depends on which Willie you want to explore, because he is definitely a chameleon music wise.

I own a lot of his stuff and these are the ones that stand out for me:

1. Across the Borderline (1993). Willie doing covers. He is a gifted interpreter. His heartfelt best.

2. It Will Always Be (2004). Best singing and playing performance on an album in easily a dozen years. A songwriting workshop.

3. First Highwayman album (1985). Willie as the Outlaw with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.

If you like this genre of music, pick up a copy of Townes Van Zandt's
Texas Rain (2001). Great duet with Willie on "Maria."

See for yourself:



Townes Van Zandt


I like Teatro for both the music and sonics. Stardust is very nice also, Willie in his somber/sober mood. I'm going to check out "Across the Borderline."
Yes to all the above.

This being the Holly Jolly season, don't forget to get Willie's Christmas album.
Pbb, The C/W recording bureaucracy told him his voice wasn't good enough. That's why all his early hits compositions were performed by others-say Crazy by Patsy Cline.
It was brought to my attention that I typed in the wrong year for Red Headed Stranger...should be 1975. This is Willie singing about his outlaw alter ego. Actually, it's hard for me to choose between RHS and Phases and Stages, from a year earlier. To me, one of these two is essential.
"Red Headed Stranger" is Willie's "Desperado" (Eagles) and his best album IMO.
"Red Headed Stranger" To me, not only his best, but one of my favorite albums.
"Stardust" is my second favorite. Agree with the OP about people getting envolved with the Willie albums when I put them on.
Sorry to veer off, but Jackie King a guitarist who plays with weed smokin' Willie quite a bit is superb. The playing on his Moon Magic disc is pretty interesting and sounds great... any Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass or Tal Farlow fans will dig it. Sure hope he makes more records.
Hey everyone, listen up when Duanegoosen makes a music selection suggestion. This guy knows his music!
Oh man, I could go on and on. I am a huge Willie fan, and have quite a good chunk of his albums.

Two great early albums:

Phases and Stages; Shotgun Willie

These albums have many of his classics on them, along with many great songs many have never heard.

Stardust: This may have to be his “prettiest” album. The perfect album to turn the lights off too and sip your adult beverage of choice.

Willie and Family Live: This is probably the best “party” album from Willie. Many of the songs are done a little faster than the studio versions. It also gives you a peak of how great his live shows are.

Two recent albums: Songbird; It Always Will Be

I really enjoy both of these albums. Both are fairly “raw” with many tracks that have a nice “bluesy” feel.

Again, I love just about all of his work, but these albums will give a great look into what Willie has to offer.
I am not a die-hard Willie fan but I do like his "Milk Cow Blues" album. A nice collection of blues songs and guest artists.
Hi Idiotec, that "raw" feeling is something I really like about Willie. The depth of much of his writing seems
complemented by this quality.
I hope he just goes on & on. Living proof of what a person can do with soul.
Completely agree Psacanli. The sound of his music, and just his presence, is truly something special.