Willie Nelson at Horseshoe Casino 

They call him the Red Headed Stranger, and even if you know Willie Nelson's oeuvre backward and forward, the list of hits is still stunning: "Crazy," "Nightlife," "Hello Walls," "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," "Pancho & Lefty," "Bloody Mary Morning," "Pretty Paper," "Always on My Mind," "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys," and on and on. That's the bare surface of one of the most extraordinary catalogs in pop music.

Like his friend, mentor, and fellow Texan, Ray Price, Nelson's never believed in boundaries. Waylon Jennings described his friend and fellow outlaw as an "original free spirit," who refused to let honky-tonk roots stop him from moaning the blues or recording a Joni Mitchell song or entire albums of jazz standards. On the other hand, Nelson never stopped carrying a torch for the plaintive ballads and hard barroom shuffles he played as a brief but important member of Price's band, the Cherokee Cowboys. In June, Nelson revisited those early days when he released his 71st studio album, For the Good Times, a tribute to Price who passed away in 2013, six years after he, Nelson, and Merle Haggard toured together, billing themselves "Last of the Breed."

click to enlarge Willie Nelson - RANDY MIRAMONTEZ | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Randy Miramontez | Dreamstime.com
  • Willie Nelson

There are only a few things in this world we can be sure of. The sun rises in the east. Nobody ever wins an argument on the internet. And every night, somewhere in the world, for as long as he's above ground and able to draw breath, Willie Nelson is singing for generations of fans, sandwiching a generous selection of hits between ageless renditions of "Whiskey River" and "On the Road Again."

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