Country Throwback: Willie Nelson Belts ‘Whiskey River,’ ‘Stay All Night’ at Farm Aid 1995

by Suzanne Halliburton

Willie Nelson is heavily involved with Farm Aid. The country icon wants to help these men and women stay on the land they’ve tended, often for generations.

So imagine the thrill Nelson and other organizers felt back in 1995, when Farm Aid celebrated its 10th anniversary. Thousands of people jammed into Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky to hear Nelson and other superstars raise money for American farmers.

What do you give someone for their 10th anniversary? Etiquette says something made of tin.

Willie Nelson gave the audience some of his best-loved classics. In this clip, Nelson plays “Whiskey River” and “Stay All Night.” While Willie was playing, a female fan climbed on stage and presented him with a bouquet of roses. She also tried to plant a kiss on Willie’s lips, but he twice turned his head so she settled for pecks on his cheek.

Have a listen and read on for more details.

Willie Nelson and Farm Aid

Willie Nelson is one of the original organizers of Farm Aid. The first concert was held at the University of Illinois on Sept 22, 1985. That was a great year for this sort of mega concerts. Two months earlier, the star-studded Live Aid was held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia to raise money for worldwide famine relief.

Farm Aid sported a super talented lineup, too. Of course, Willie Nelson was there. So were co-founders Neil Young and John Mellencamp. The goal was to help family farmers pay their mortgages.

A mixture of country, blues and rock performers played the first concert. Other performers included Alabama, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Glen Campbell, Billy JoelB.B. KingRoy Orbison and Tom Petty.

For 10-year Anniversary, Willie Gave Crowd A Sobering Reminder About Family Farms

Ten years later, Willie Nelson sang a number of his hits. The setlist also included duets. He opened the concert with “Amazing Grace.” Kentucky farmer Mattie Mack joined him for the traditional hymn. Nelson also performed “Heart of Gold” with Neil Young.

The concert drew 47,000 fans.

Nelson also delighted the crowd with two of his classic hits — “Whiskey River” and “Stay All Night.”

Nelson first released “Whiskey River” in 1972. The song gained its most traction in 1978, when Willie released it as part of a live album. The song reached No. 3 on the country charts.

“Stay All Night” was from 1973. The song was first was made popular by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1945.

Willie Nelson, addressing the crowd in Louisville, harkened back on the original Farm Aid. His comments were sobering. Nelson said this country should never have needed a concert to benefit family farmers.

As for 1995, he said the concert shouldn’t be seen as a celebration.

“We’re not here to celebrate anything,” Nelson said. “We’re here to say that the problem is not only still here, but worse than before.”

For more Outsider coverage of Willie Nelson, click it here.