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Released: July 26, 1975


Rating: 4.750 (average of 4 ratings)


Genre: country


Quotable: “the album could well be attributed to launching the outlaw country movement” – Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time Magazine


Album Tracks:

  1. Time of the Preacher
  2. I Couldn’t Believe It Was True
  3. Time of the Preacher (Theme)
  4. Medley: Blue Rock Montana/ Red Headed Stranger
  5. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
  6. Red Headed Stranger
  7. Time of the Preacher (Theme)
  8. Just As I Am
  9. Denver
  10. O’er the Waves
  11. Down Yonder
  12. Can I Sleep in Your Arms?
  13. Remember Me (When the Candlelights Are Gleaming)
  14. Hands on the Wheel
  15. Bandera


Total Running Time: 33:30


Sales:

sales in U.S. only 2 million
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 2 million


Peak:

peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 28
peak on U.K. album chart --


Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (7/19/75) #21 US, #1 CW, #12 AC
  • Remember Me When the Candlelights Are Gleaming (1/3/76) #67 US, #2 CW


Notes: The 2000 CD reissue added “Bach Minuet in G,” “Can’t Help It if I’m Still in Love with You,” “A Maiden’s Prayer,” and “Bonaparte’s Retreat.”


Awards:

Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. One of Blender’s 100 Greatest American Albums One of Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums.


Red Headed Stranger
Willie Nelson
Review:
“In the early Seventies, Willie Nelson was a songwriter legend, with such classics as ‘Crazy’ and ‘Hello Walls’ behind him, but wasn't a major-league artist on his own. When his Nashville home burned down, he hightailed it back to Texas” (Tyrangiel/ Light) and “introduced a new sense of ambition and possibility to the genre” (Tyrangiel/ Light) by “remaking himself as a country music outlaw, as he and such kindred, independent spirits as Waylon Jennings became known” (Tyrangiel/ Light). “Nelson’s somber voice and lurching guitar and sister Bobbie’s exquisite piano shaped a dark and dense masterwork having nothing to do with Nashville” (Blender).

Red Headed Stranger is “a self-produced (heresy to the Nashville establishment) concept album” (Tyrangiel/ Light) that “perhaps is the strangest blockbuster country produced” (Erlewine). It is an “outlaw landmark – not a yee-ha! on it” (Blender). “Red Headed Stranger tells the story of a renegade “preacher on the run after murdering his departed wife and her new lover” (Erlewine). The story is “told entirely with brief song-poems and utterly minimal backing. It's defiantly anticommercial and it demands intense concentration – all reasons why nobody thought it would be a hit, a story related in Chet Flippo's liner notes to the 2000 reissue” (Erlewine).

“It was a phenomenal blockbuster, though” (Erlewine); “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain was a Number One [country] single” (Tyrangiel/ Light). The success of the album helped in “establishing Nelson as a superstar recording artist in its own right” (Erlewine).

“For all its success, it still remains a prickly, difficult album, though, making the interspersed concept of Phases and Stages sound shiny in comparison. It’s difficult because it’s old-fashioned, sounding like a tale told around a cowboy campfire. Now, this all reads well on paper, and there’s much to admire in Nelson’s intimate gamble, but it’s really elusive, as the themes get a little muddled and the tunes themselves are a bit bare. It’s undoubtedly distinctive – and it sounds more distinctive with each passing year – but it’s strictly an intellectual triumph and, after a pair of albums that were musically and intellectually sound, it’s a bit of a letdown, no matter how successful it was” (Erlewine).

Regardless, the album could well be attributed to launching the outlaw country movement – “when Stranger was followed up with the breakthrough collection Wanted! The Outlaws (with Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser), country music had entered a new era – and Willie Nelson was an international superstar” (Tyrangiel/ Light).


Review Source(s):
  • Blender Magazine’s 100 Greatest American Albums (10/08)
  • Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
  • Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time Magazine’s “All-TIME 100 Albums” (11/13/06)


Last updated November 2, 2008.