Willie Nelson Releases ‘Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground’ from Upcoming Album ‘Live at Budokan’

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)

 Next month, American listeners will get their first chance to hear Willie Nelson’s Tokyo debut. In 1984, Willie and the band played Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan. That night, Nelson and company were able to transcend the language barrier and introduce their brand of country music to a whole new audience. Luckily for us, they recorded the set for a live album. That record was available in Japan for years. However, it never made it to the United States. Now, we’re just weeks away from hearing Willie play Tokyo for the first time.

Last month, we got the first taste of Willie Nelson: Live at Budokan when Nelson released the live rendition of “Good Hearted Woman” as the lead single. Now, we’re getting another classic track from the Red-Headed Stranger. Today, he released “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” as the album’s second single. However, it isn’t just available on your favorite streaming platform. A video from that night in Tokyo is available, too. Check it out below.

Seeing a much younger Willie Nelson on the stage is a real treat. He, Trigger, and the rest of the band are in top form here. However, the best part of the video might be the cheering crowd. It’s safe to assume that not everyone in the audience speaks English. Yet, they’re all there to see one of the greatest musicians to come from the Lone Star State. It’s things like this that show how music can transcend language, culture, and time to bring people together.

Willie Nelson on the Power of Music

In the liner notes for Live at Budokan, Willie Nelson talked about the power of music to bring people together. “I believe that music, not only country music, but I believe that music is a great communicator. I think that it crosses all boundaries and I think that the people –regardless of whether they understand what I’m saying or not –  would feel what I’m saying,” Nelson wrote.

“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”

Willie Nelson wrote and recorded “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” for the 1980 film Honeysuckle Rose. However, it didn’t take the song long to catch on and become a favorite among his fans and his seventh chart-topping single. It’s a sweet song that is easy to apply to countless situations.

According to Songfacts, Willie Nelson has never talked about why he wrote the song. Some people believe that it’s about Charlie Magoo, a Hell’s Angels member and friend of Nelson’s who was killed. On the other hand, some have said that Willie wrote it about his former wife Connie Koepke because they were reportedly having marital problems at the time.

“It’s a pretty general theme that can be taken and applied to a lot of different situations,” Willie Nelson said of the song. “You could relate it to someone who had died, love affairs, or whatever. It has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people who have no idea why I wrote that song”