At 90, Willie Nelson continues to document and tour – it is likely to be some time earlier than his ashes are being rolled between the Rizlas. His 2023 album finds him specializing in the songs of Nashville’s premier songwriter, the late Harlan Howard; this, its title observe, is ideal Nelson: wry, reflective and superbly sung.
29. Deliver Me Sunshine (1968)
Initially recorded by the Mills Brothers and finest recognized within the UK as Morecambe and Clever’s theme track, Deliver Me Sunshine gave Nelson the final hit of his Nashville period. When he returned to the charts within the mid-Nineteen Seventies, the thriving counterculture of Austin, Texas, had remodeled Nelson’s look and sound.
28. All the time on My Thoughts (1982)
A decade after Elvis scored with this bathetic ballad, Nelson took uber-producer Chips Moman’s recommendation and recorded it. Nelson’s weathered baritone conveys a relatable heartache and he scored the largest nation hit single and album (of the identical title) of 1982 whereas scooping a number of Grammy and Nation Music Affiliation awards.
27. I Am the Forest (1983)
Recovering from collapsed lungs, Nelson wrote the songs for More durable Than Leather-based, his first album of unique materials in eight years. His band (which featured his older sister Bobbie Nelson on piano till her dying in 2022) present lovely accompaniment on a track that captures Willie’s Texas Zen spirit.
26. On the Highway Once more (1980)
Honeysuckle Rose gave Nelson his first starring function in a function movie (enjoying a struggling nation singer having an affair), however it’s this track that he wrote for the soundtrack – which encapsulates his need to stay life on a tour bus – that followers keep in mind.
25. Throughout the Borderline (1993)
Nelson’s album produced by Don Was discovered him surrounded by well-known followers; inevitably with such a challenge, it’s uneven. But Nelson sang the title observe, a haunting lament – written by Ry Cooder, John Hiatt and Jim Dickinson for Freddy Fender – about migrants crossing from Mexico to Texas, with such grace that it’s now a contemporary commonplace.
24. The More durable They Come (2005)
Countryman, Nelson’s long-gestating reggae-country album (Chris Blackwell initially paired him with Sly & Robbie, to no avail), was typically considered a failure. But Nelson works wonders right here, reworking Jimmy Cliff’s Jamaican outlaw anthem right into a stark, sharp outlaw nation track powered by snapping guitar and fierce, foreboding percussion.
23. Too Sick to Pray (1996)
If the Eighties discovered Nelson dominating the charts (don’t point out that Julio Iglesias duet), the Nineteen Nineties had been extra musically adventurous. Spirit is a putting album that includes this effective observe on ageing and mortality. His beautiful acoustic selecting (on his battered Set off guitar) reinforces simply how gifted Nelson is as a musician.
22. Seven Spanish Angels (1984)
Nelson had lengthy been in awe of Ray Charles when the producer Billy Sherrill paired them to sing this dramatic, mariachi-flavoured gunfighter ballad. Each males rose to the event and delivered distinctive vocal performances. An enormous hit within the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, it is a gorgeous recording.