At a show in Franklin, Tennessee a couple weeks ago, Cody Johnson covered the ever livin’ Hell outta his fellow Texan, the legend himself, Willie Nelson’s “Shotgun Willie.”
That song was the title track to his 16th studio album that was released in 1973, and 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.
And damn if Cody doesn’t do this song more than justice…
Of course, he gave it his own little twist with a more modern and upbeat production, but this is one of my favorite covers he’s ever done.