To be honest, I really don’t think we give Willie Nelson’s reggae album enough credit.
He turned some of his classic country songs, as well as a few covers, into reggae gold, and honestly, they’re pretty damn good (though I’d expect nothing less from the living legend).
Lost Highway Records released his reggae album Countryman in 2005 (Willie’s 53rd studio album), which was 10 years in the making at that time, as he originally started working on it in 1995.
It seems like reggae fans quite enjoyed Willie’s dabbling in the genre, too, as it peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart, as well as #6 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
And one of the best, most intriguing renditions on the tracklist is his reimagined version of “How Long Is Forever,” which was written very early on in his career, and of course, in true Willie fashion, is a beautiful honky tonk heartbreaker.
“How Long Is Forever” was actually first recorded decades ago for his 1966 live album, Country Music Concert, which was done at Panther Hall in Fort Worth over two nights in July of 1966.
That original production is pretty much the polar opposite of what you hear in the reggae version, obviously, but something about it just works, you know?
I mean, you cannot listen to this song and not wanna be sitting on the beach with a piña colada…
And funny enough, the cover art for the record featured a drawing of a marijuana plant, but was changed for Walmart stores, where the artwork became a palm tree.
Only Willie Nelson could pull this off, truly:
Here’s the original live recording from the 60’s: