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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"Me and Paul" (1971)

Bro-country may have been birthed decades after the release of "Me and Paul" in 1971, but, back then, Nelson was singing his own kind of bro anthem. Dedicated to his drummer Paul English, "Me and Paul" is a road-chugger about the foibles of touring life, the poisons of Music Row and how everything is better with a partner in crime. First appearing on Yesterday's Wine and then as the title track of 1985's Me & Paul, it's a flipside to the highway glory of "On the Road Again," delving into the mischief and danger that lingers from stop to stop. "I guess Nashville was the roughest," he sings to a classic honky-tonk stomp and forecasting his own future. Nelson nearly left music altogether after Yesterday's Wine failed to resonate, but the fact that he defiantly revived "Me and Paul" shows that, ultimately, the only critic that mattered was himself. 

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