The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Willie Nelson DeJamz


The haters have a lot to say about Willie Nelson. Open any Reddit thread, and the masses will be lining up to comment on his voice or songwriting abilities. First, his voice is excellent, and who cares if he sings mostly covers? All old-time country artists do that. Secondly, he once smoked a joint on the White House Roof with Jimmy Carter’s son, significantly undermining any arguments or criticisms directed toward him. Thirdly, he’s the real goddamn deal, need I say more? Without further ado, here are my top five Willie Nelson tracks.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” – Willie Nelson 

While initially written by Fred Rose and recorded by Elton Britt in 1946, Nelson’s version puts them to shame. As we know, soft country songs from the 1950s to the 1980s tend to ensnare me like a bug in a glue trap, and this particular song is no exception. The fifth track on Nelson’s 1975 “Red Headed Stranger,” which details a fugitive preacher living on the lam after killing his wife, balances just the right amount of yearning and turmoil, making it a certified banger in my book.

“He Was A Friend of Mine” – Willie Nelson

We won’t discuss that I’ve already included this song on past DeJamz. Featured on the 2005 soundtrack for Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain,” Nelson’s take on this song makes me downright suicidal. All I will say is that if I had been old enough to watch “Brokeback Mountain” in theatres and this song played as the credits rolled, I would have walked out of the theater and into oncoming traffic. 

“Roll Me Up” – Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Kris Kristofferson

Pivoting to a complete 180 from the previous track, I want the lyrics of “Roll Me Up” carved into my headstone after I kick the bucket. Music peaked when Nelson and Snoop Dogg walked into the studio together; I mean come on, it doesn’t get any better than this.

“Blue Skies” – Willie Nelson

Searching for a similarity between me and my dead deadbeat Grandpa? Look no further than “Blue Skies.” I felt mildly ill when my mom first told this piece of Grandpa Willie (yes, he shares a first name with Mr. Nelson) lore. How could I have anything in common with that SOB? I now understand that this is Nelson’s power. Grandpa Willie may be rotting in hell, but we’ll always have “Blue Skies” to bridge our generations. I cannot fix his decaying legacy of alcoholism and abuse, but I can change how those around me perceive Willie Nelson’s music.

“Time of the Preacher” – Willie Nelson 

Fun fact: this was the song that sparked my love for Nelson. I found “Time of the Preacher” by accident, but I remember being enthralled by the narrative. From the Western twang to Nelson’s vivid imagery of a preacher losing his mind after his wife left him, I knew I had to learn everything I could about “Red Headed Stranger.” It’s no secret why Nelson’s 18 studio album is considered one of the best concept records of all time.

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