Willie Nelson: 20 Essential Songs

From the signature ballad he wrote for Patsy Cline to his love letter to life on the road

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"Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" (1975)

When Nelson recorded his version of this Fred Rose classic in 1975, he hadn't scored a Top 10 hit in more than a dozen years. His audience was growing smaller. His label was getting worried. An unfazed Nelson responded to all of this concern by releasing a stark, strange concept album, Red Headed Stranger, that topped the country charts even as it flew in the face of the genre's mid-Seventies trends. "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" was the album's centerpiece: a sad, bare-boned ballad released during an era of string-heavy schmaltz. 

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