It was the title track to his 16th studio album that was released in 1973.
The album was recorded soon after he left his former label, RCA Records, and hired a new manager, Neil Reshen. Ultimately, Willie decided to move to Austin, Texas and continue his music career there, where he also became the first country artist to sign with Atlantic Records.
When he went in to record this album, he was uninspired by the first few tracks, and went home and wrote “Shotgun Willie” on a napkin in the bathroom of his hotel room.
In spite of poor sales upon release day, the album received much critical acclaim and garnered him major recognition with a younger audience. It was also one of the first true outlaw country records. Of course, “Shotgun Willie” stuck as a nickname and was inspired by a true story, which you’ll want to read about here.
Consider the song his mission statement, if you will, for this chapter of his country career and who he wanted to be as an artist:
“Well you can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say You can’t play music if you don’t know nothing to play Shotgun Willie sits around in his underwear Bitin’ on a bullet and pullin’ out all of his hair Shotgun Willie’s got all his family there”