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by Linda Ryan

June 17, 2014

Willie Nelson On Our Mind

by Linda Ryan  |  June 17, 2014

While you'd hardly say Willie Nelson has been quiet the past two decades, the prolific artist has spent most of that time releasing albums that aren't entirely (or at all) the kind of country associated with the icon. Now in his 80s, Nelson has earned the right to do whatever he damn well pleases; it's the sort of luxury most artists dream of, but few are granted.

For Nelson, that means recording an album of duets with some of country music's hottest female artists (To All the Girls...), covering the jazz and country standards he grew up listening to (Let's Face the Music and Dance), and putting his own wild and wacky spin on contemporary pop songs (Heroes). So, while he hasn't been quiet, he hasn't released an album of original songs in quite a while. And from a master craftsman responsible for some of pop music's most indelible songs -- including Patsy Cline's "Crazy," Roy Orbison's Christmas hit "Pretty Paper" and Faron Young's "Hello Walls" -- this is somewhat surprising.

So, naturally, we're excited about his new album, Band of Brothers, which features self-penned tunes (nine of the album's 14 tracks) that prove the master hasn't lost his gift for writing songs that are sharp, biting and funny at just the right moments. In this guide, we take a look at Willie Nelson's early career, as well as his decade-spanning litany of hits. We also take a deep dive into the singer's classic album, Shotgun Willie, and shine a humorous light on country songs that focus on one of Willie's favorite pastimes. Enjoy!

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