If you follow Colter Wall on Instagram, you can deduce two things immediately. He likes to play music, and he likes to cowboy. When Colter isn’t strumming and singing, he’s running cattle. Makes pretty good sense for the singing cowboy to combine those passions, which is just what he did when he performed the cowboy ballad, “Red Headed Stranger,” at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In May 2018, the Country Music Hall of Fame celebrated the opening of their major exhibit, Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s. The star-studded show featured performances by the late Billy Joe Shaver (“Honky Tonk Heroes”), Jason Isbell (“Pancho and Lefty”), Bobby Bare (“Marie Laveau”), Joe Ely (“I Had My Hopes Up High”), and more.
Colter Wall put his pipes on the Willie Nelson classic, “Red Headed Stranger,” which the CMHOF recently shared.
Red Headed Stranger
Willie Nelson released his landmark album, Red Headed Stranger, on May 26, 1975. The concept album was inspired by “The Tale of the Red Headed Stranger,” a tune penned by Edith Linderman and Carl Stutz in the 1950s (it was originally written for Perry Como, but a publishing issue kept him from recording it). Nonetheless, Willie, who always liked the tune, used it as the centerpiece and title track for one of Outlaw country’s most important albums.
In addition to the title track, the album featured “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “Remember Me,” “Down Yonder,” and more.
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” was chosen as the album’s lead single. By October 1975, the tune reached the top of the chart to become Willie’s first No. 1 single as an artist. The song also earned Willie a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance – Male in 1976. In addition, the album topped the chart. It has been certified 2X Platinum by the RIAA for sales of 2 million units.
Outlaws & Armadillos
Outlaws & Armadillos explores the era of cultural and artistic exchange between Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas, that spawned artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Jerry Jeff Walker, Tom T. Hall, Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, David Allan Coe, Cowboy Jack Clement, and Tompall Glaser.
The exhibit also draws parallels to some of the modern-day artists that were influenced by the Outlaw era, including Colter Wall, Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton.
After a four-year run, the Country Music Hall of Fame will close the exhibit on June 7. So you still have about three weeks to check it out.