Nelson’s career has been successful and long, and even now, at 89 years young, it seems like the man has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
With over 60 years of making music under his belt, nearly 100 studio albums, over two-dozen #1 singles, it’s pretty safe to say that Willie Nelson has probably cemented himself on the Mount Rushmore of country music.
However, there is another little fun fact about Willie… he was the first artist to play Austin City Limits, the longest running music show on television.
In 1974, Nelson took the ACL stage for the first time to record what would end up being the pilot episode of the show. The show got the green light from PBS and the rest is history,
Over the years, he has graced the stage more than fifteen times, securing himself a spot in the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame in 2014.
Although nearly all of his performances could be watched over and over without getting old, these five standouts will always be my go-to when I want to watch a little Willie.
“Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain” from 1976
This is one of my favorite Willie Nelson songs. The simplicity of the melody allows the lyrics to shine.
“Bloody Mary Morning” from 1974
This song has twang, guitar picking, and classic country lyrics packaged in a fast-paced tune that’ll make you want to tap your feet to the beat. The harmonica breakdown and guitar solo show how much fun Nelson and the band are having on stage.
“Shotgun Willie” from 1981
The title track from his 1973 album of the same name, this song was performed just shy of a decade after its release, and it sounds just as good as it did on record.
“Crazy” from 2018
This blues-rooted sound highlights the sound diversity Nelson has as an artist. The heavy guitar riffs accompanied by background piano compliment the talking-like lyrics perfectly.
“Good Hearted Woman” from 1979
This songwriter’s special is one of my favorites. The room is filled with talented songwriters strumming guitar, sharing songs, and sharing stories. This song is timeless to me, and this version is my absolute favorite.
It’s hard to believe there was a time in country music without Willie Nelson.
It is rare to have a combination of musical and songwriting talent that Nelson processes. He is a master at his craft, and country music would not be what it is today without him.