He recently announced an upcoming album, The Willie Nelson Family, that will also include his sister Bobbie Lee, and kids Lukas, Micah, Amy, and Paula. His 96th studio album (yes, you read that right), is slated to drop on November 19th.
He previously put out the first track from the record, a fresh update on one of his first hits “Family Bible,” and now, we’re getting another tune in Kris Kristofferson’s classic “Why Me”.
It was originally released in 1973 on Kris’ Jesus Was A Capricorn album, and ultimately became his biggest hit as a solo artist, peaking at #1 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Singles chart that same year.
Kris wrote the song during a low point in his life after attending a church service with some of his friends, where he also heard Larry Gatlin sing “Help Me,” which partially inspired the song, as well.
Kris stumbled into church one morning, planning to just sit through the service and move on with his day, and ended up getting saved and changing his life:
“I was moved by a song I heard [Larry] singin’ in church, “Help Me”, as a matter of fact. It was at Jimmie Snow’s church. The night before, we had been down in Cookeville with a bunch of people doin’ a benefit for Dottie West High School band or something.
And then Connie [Smith] took me over to church the next day, and I had a profound religious experience during the session. Something that I hadn’t ever had happen to me before. And ‘Why Me’ came out of it.”
He called it a very personal experience:
“Everybody was kneelin’ down, and Jimmie said somethin’ like, ‘If anybody’s lost, please raise their hand.’ And I was kneelin’ there, and I don’t go to church a lot, and the notion of raising my hand was out of the question.
And I thought, I can’t imagine who’s doing this. And all of a sudden, I felt my hand goin’ up. And I was hoping nobody else was looking, ‘cuz everybody had their head over praying. And then he said ‘If anybody is ready to accept Jesus’, somethin’ like this, ‘Come down to the front of the church.’
And I thought that would never happen. And I found myself getting up and walking down with all these people and going down there. And I don’t really know what he said to me, he said something to me like ‘Are you ready to accept Jesus Christ in your life?’ or something, and I said, ‘I don’t know.’
I didn’t know what I was doing there. And he said ‘Kneel down here’, and I can’t even remember what he was saying, but whatever it was, was such a release for me that I found myself weeping in public.
And I felt this forgiveness that I didn’t know I even needed.”
Willie previously covered this song on his 1979 record, Sings Kristofferson.
Elvis Presley even retitled the track to “Why Me Lord” and included it on his live album, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis, in June of 1974. He also incorporated it into his live show starting in January 1974, and played it at every show all the way until his last tour in 1977.
The Wille Nelson Family tracklist includes six Willie Nelson originals, along with six covers.
The Willie Nelson Family Tracklist:
1. “Heaven and Hell” (Willie Nelson)
2. “Kneel at the Feet of Jesus” (Willie Nelson)
3. “Laying My Burdens Down” (Willie Nelson)
4. “Family Bible” (Claude Gray, Paul Buskirk & Walt Breeland)
5. “In the Garden” (traditional)
6. “All Things Must Pass” (George Harrison)
7. “I Saw the Light” (Hank Williams, Sr.)
8. “In God’s Eyes” (Willie Nelson)
9. “Keep It on the Sunnyside” (A.P. Carter)
10. “I Thought About You, Lord” (Willie Nelson)
11. “Too Sick to Pray” (Willie Nelson)
12. “Why Me” (Kris Kristofferson)
Here’s Kris telling the story himself and singing the song with Willie on the guitar back in 2005: