Hat Tip to Willie Nelson

Fresh on the heels of his
seventy-first album, the Red Headed Stranger will celebrate his eighty-eighth birthday on April 29. In tribute, five Southern artists share their favorite songs from the Texas legend

Illustration: Tim bower

“The Part Where I Cry”

“The entire album …And Then I Wrote is one of the finest ever recorded. And not just in country music. Willie changed popular music with his songwriting, and it all started here.”—Charley Crockett

“Blue Skies”

“His soothing voice is a natural fit for this lullaby-like melody. Despite all the chaos and confusion life throws, this song somehow makes me feel like we’re all gonna be all right.” —Hailey Whitters

“It Will Come to Pass”

“The lyrics are profound, mystical, and quite psychedelic—and, as far as I can tell, they’re true. A simple song about the incomprehensible nature of things, it’s the kind every songwriter wants to write.” —Parker Millsap

“Summer of Roses”

“As tender a love song as I am aware of.” —Joe Firstman of Cordovas

“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”

Leave me if you need to, I will still remember / My angel flying too close to the ground. For us, Willie has been an angel. You very seldom get a chance to have an angel in your life, so when it happens, you treasure them forever. Happy birthday, Willie.” —Regina McCrary of the McCrary Sisters