Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger

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In 1975, Willie Nelson just signed to Columbia Records and was granted an artistic freedom he'd never before enjoyed in his career. Feeling empowered, Nelson began writing, and soon developed what would become the storyline for his breakthrough record, Red Headed Stranger. A story of murder and infidelity, spun amidst stripped-down arrangements that highly contrasted with the slick, puffed-up music being churned out on Nashville's increasingly plastic assembly line, the LP helped launch the outlaw country music and Nelson's mainstream star, crossing over country boundaries into popular tastes. 

Sure, dark images are nothing new in country music, but concept albums were extremely uncommon until Willie made them seem natural. Following his brilliant Phases And Stages and extremely popular StardustRed Headed Stranger, remains a startlingly original conceptual affair. Although the title tune had already been recorded by Eddy Arnold and released on the RCA LP There Hangs A Tale, it was Nelson who would take the song to a much higher level by recording an entire album of songs around the tragic story of the Red Headed Stranger.

A stunning mix of original and classic songs, highlights include heartfelt interpretations of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," "Time Of The Preacher," and Hank Cochran's "Can I Sleep In Your Arms." Musically, Red Headed Stranger also features Nelson's band, Family, featuring his sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, Jody Payne on guitar and mandolin, the impeccable harmonica of Mickey Raphael, and the ever-flawless Billy English on drums.