Last week, Willie Nelson became the seventh winner of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
To mark the occasion, we’ve rounded up just a few of the best of Nelson’s many, many hits:
Old School Willie
photo: Erika Rich
“Night Life” — Written while driving to and from gigs in Pasadena, Willie sold the song to pay the bills.
“Family Bible” — Willie sold this one, too. But Claude Gray made a hit out of it and that encouraged Willie to move to Nashville.
“Hello Walls” — Faron Young took this to the top of country charts.
“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” — You know you’re doing good when Bob Dylan records your song.
“On the Road Again” — Written almost on the spot when it was suggested he needed a new song for his movie “Honeysuckle Rose.”
“Good Hearted Woman” — Written and performed with good friend Waylon Jennings.
“I Gotta Get Drunk” — “There’s more old drunks than there are old doctors so I guess we better have another round.”
“Shotgun Willie” — Willie got the nickname after a shootout that followed a domestic dispute between daughter Lana and her husband.
“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” — We can’t imagine how Willie interested Snoop Dogg in a collaboration.
“I Just Can’t Let You Say Goodbye” — The protagonist strangles the woman who is going to leave him.
“I Never Cared for You” — Willie gives the traditional love song a surreal makeover.
“Devil in A Sleeping Bag” — Inspired by drummer Paul English’s devilish looks and a long road trip from California.
Not Written by Willie
“Whiskey River” — Johnny Bush wrote the song that Willie (almost) always opens his shows with.
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” — Written by Fred Rose and originally recorded in 1945 by Roy Acuff, it was Willie’s first No. 1 hit.
“Always on My Mind” — Was a big hit for Elvis in the early ?70s, but an even bigger hit for Willie.