Willie Nelson is a Southern music icon. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has never heard of Willie, and equally challenged to find anyone who doesn’t like his music.
As for me, I have been spinning Willie for as long as I can remember. At least back to the early seventies, when he gave us Red Headed Stranger and teamed with Waylon and the gang to present The Outlaws.
One Hell of a Ride is just that, 100 tracks, spread across four CDs with a thick liner note book that is a fun read and chock full of rare photos.
The music is arranged in chronological order, beginning in the 1950’s and time traveling through five decades of great music. Beginning with “When I’ve Sung My Last Hillbilly Song” (which is re recorded as the bookend at the end of disc four) as well as Willie classics such as “Nite Life,” “Hello Walls,” “Crazy,” and “Family Bible,” the collection moves along with Willie’s duets “Seven Spanish Angels” with Ray Charles, “Poncho and Lefty” with Merle Haggard, “Good Hearted Woman” with Waylon, and “Heartbreak Hotel” with Leon Russell.
There isn’t a sleeper in the box, with memorable Nelson cuts like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “Stardust,” “A Song for You,” “Georgia On My Mind,” his cover of Gregg Allman’s “Midnight Rider,” and perhaps Willie’s biggest hit, “On The Road Again.” There’s “The Highwaymen,” the timeless collaboration with Waylon, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson, and his duet with Lee Anne Wommack, “Mendocino County Line.”
Now, I admit I have named a lot of songs, but the cool thing is I have only scratched the surface. This is by far the finest Willie Nelson collection available. A sheer celebration of a true Texas treasure. A true American treasure. A true World treasure.
-Michael Buffalo Smith