And a few years back, the three of them did a little series called Willie Nelson and the Boys, where they played acoustic versions of some of Willie’s classics, like the one we’re talking about today, “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain.”
A country standard by all accounts, it was actually the first song Willie taught Lukas how to play on the guitar, and Lukas remembers learning it for his father’s birthday one year:
“The first song that you taught me dad, when I was a kid, was ‘Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain.’ That was the first chord I ever learned, was E.
I remember asking you what you wanted for your birthday, I was like 10 or 11, and you’re like, ‘You know what would make me happy, is if you learned to play guitar.’
And I took that to heart, and you taught me that night ‘Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain.'”
“Blue Eyes” was originally written by Fred Rose and performed by Roy Acuff. It has been covered by countless other country artists, like Hank Williams Sr. and Charley Pride, but was made most famous by Willie when he included it on his iconic 1975 Red Headed Stranger album.
In October of 1975, it became Willie’s very first #1 hit as a singer on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart.
That year at the 18th Annual Grammy Awards, Willie also won the award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Blue Eyes,” the first of 12 he would go on to win.
Playing that song night after night back in the day took a toll on him, though.
Nelson was a notorious drinker back in the mid-to-late 70’s, saying in Hot Press interview that he would get extremely emotionally invested in the songs right along with audience:
“It’s really difficult to sing ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ or ‘Always On My Mind’ without getting emotionally involved, especially when the audience gets emotionally involved and you feel their feelings.
You can only wallow in your own misery for so long without saying, ‘Wait a minute, I want a drink!’”
Fair enough… those two songs are over 48 years old and still resonate just as deeply with people now as they did half a century ago, so they clearly have the power to touch people at the core of their being.
And there’s something so special about seeing Willie play is with his own children now, passing along the tradition of timeless country music and knowing that they’re carrying on his inimitable legacy while he’s still around to see and be part of it.
I mean, just listen to those sweet, sweet harmonies between these three very talented musicians… it doesn’t get any better than this: