Red Headed Stranger

Willie Nelson

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Red Headed Stranger Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger perhaps is the strangest blockbuster country produced, a concept album about a preacher on the run after murdering his departed wife and her new lover, told entirely with brief song-poems and utterly minimal backing. It's defiantly anticommercial and it demands intense concentration -- all reasons why nobody thought it would be a hit, a story related in Chet Flippo's liner notes to the 2000 reissue. It was a phenomenal blockbuster, though, selling millions of copies, establishing Nelson as a superstar recording artist in its own right. For all its success, it still remains a prickly, difficult album, though, making the interspersed concept of Phases and Stages sound shiny in comparison. It's difficult because it's old-fashioned, sounding like a tale told around a cowboy campfire. Now, this all reads well on paper, and there's much to admire in Nelson's intimate gamble, but it's really elusive, as the themes get a little muddled and the tunes themselves are a bit bare. It's undoubtedly distinctive -- and it sounds more distinctive with each passing year -- but it's strictly an intellectual triumph and, after a pair of albums that were musically and intellectually sound, it's a bit of a letdown, no matter how successful it was.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Willie Nelson 02:26 SpotifyAmazon
2 Willie Nelson 01:32 SpotifyAmazon
3 Willie Nelson 01:13 SpotifyAmazon
4 Willie Nelson 01:36 SpotifyAmazon
5 Willie Nelson 02:21 SpotifyAmazon
6 Willie Nelson 04:00 SpotifyAmazon
7 Willie Nelson 00:53 SpotifyAmazon
8 Willie Nelson 00:26 SpotifyAmazon
9 Willie Nelson 01:47 SpotifyAmazon
10 Willie Nelson 00:47 SpotifyAmazon
11 Willie Nelson 01:56 SpotifyAmazon
12 Willie Nelson 05:24 SpotifyAmazon
13 Willie Nelson 02:52 SpotifyAmazon
14 Willie Nelson 04:22 SpotifyAmazon
15 Willie Nelson 02:19 SpotifyAmazon
16 Willie Nelson 00:40 SpotifyAmazon
17 Willie Nelson 03:32 SpotifyAmazon
18 Willie Nelson 02:16 SpotifyAmazon
19 Willie Nelson 02:26 SpotifyAmazon
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