The first of two listed albums from Willie Nelson is his 23 (of 68) studio albums. The “Red Headed Stranger” sure was awfully busy for a stoner. The 1978 release topped the Billboard Country charts, and made it to 30 on the Billboard 200. Apparently Canada has its own charts and the album did well there too, but honestly, who cares.
I don’t know much about Willie Nelson except that he’s at times homeless and seems to smoke copious amounts of weed. I see now that the album is all covers, so is he a homeless pothead who doesn’t write his own music? He reminds me of someone who’s worked at his same job for 10 years and constantly complains about his boss and all his coworkers, but does nothing to change his situation. Most of the praise of this album has come as a result of the very wide mix of genres Nelson covers, demonstrating how a true musician can present a variety of songs and make them appealing in their own way. I think it’s crap, but hey, what does he care?
The butchering of ‘Unchained Melody’ was particularly unsettling, as I love that song. Over 1500 recordings by over 670 artists are out there, but the Righteous Brothers version is the most well-known, especially because it is the theme song for the timeless film Ghost. Vito & The Salutations released a doo-wop version that was featured in the soundtrack of another amazing movie, Goodfellas. With so many great renditions out there, little Willie’s efforts fall somewhere between ‘nobody cares’ and ‘please stop talking to me’ on my ratings system.
For the sake of being nice, I’ll say that it was great to hear two classics at the end, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Someone To Watch Over Me.” Etta James has versions of both that put Willie’s to shame, along with many others, but it was cool to hear other versions.
Overall this was pretty sucky for being given a spot practically in the top half.
I tend to agree with Sara when it comes to covers. Most of the time they just aren’t worth doing. This album was kind of pointless. There is not a single song on this album that hasn’t been done better by someone else. Don’t get me wrong, it was not awful by any means. Willie Nelson is a very talented guy, but this was just kind of a waste of time. Hard to believe that in the 66 other albums he has produced there wasn’t another one better than this.