In this edition of Country Throwback, we’re revisiting country legend Willie Nelson performing a medley of three of his most famous songs from the early days of his long music career.
The unearthed clip of Nelson’s three-song performance hooks you from the get-go. The backing band is behind him on stage as the studio lights dim. The iconic musician stands front and center with the spotlight solely on him. However, his band is now blacked out and viewers can only see their silhouette. All eyes and ears are on Willie.
Nelson is wearing a red plaid shirt, fisherman’s cap, and bell bottoms, so it’s safe to assume the video is likely from the 1970s. In addition, the country singer is wearing his signature red, white, and blue guitar strap throughout the medley. Willie Nelson treats the studio audience to three fan favorites: “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Crazy,” and “Night Life.”
Only a few seconds into “Funny How Time Slips Away,” you can tell Nelson is in top form. The songwriter’s baritone voice sounds smooth with just the right inflection during chord changes.
Next, without skipping a beat, Nelson transitions into “Crazy.” As the crowd realizes, they clap for the hit, which brings a smile to his face. He offers up a quick “Thank you” to the crowd mid-song and continues on with the lovely ballad.
Once again, the seasoned musician transitions to the next song seamlessly. “Night Life” gets a little more lively than the previous two songs with its uptempo bluesy style. A harmonica features prominently and Nelson and the band jam out a bit for the last minute of the song. Eight minutes and three songs later, Nelson and his band brought their medley to a close as the audience applauded the amazing performance.
More on the 3 Hit Songs Willie Nelson Performed During the Medley
Although Willie Nelson wrote “Funny How Time Slips Away,” country singer Billy Walker first recorded it in 1961. That same year, the single reached No. 23 on Billboard’s country singles chart. Furthermore, the track draws comparisons to a similar tune “When Two Worlds Collide” written by Roger Miller and Bill Anderson.
The second song Nelson played during the medley is a ballad he wrote called “Crazy.” Over the years, multiple artists have recorded the track and played it at live shows. It’s been covered dozens of times by musicians in several different genres.
However, country fans probably know another country legend’s version of the hit the best. Patsy Cline most notably recorded the song in the early ’60s, and it shot up the Billboard country chart to No. 2 in 1962. Nelson himself recorded his own version the same year and released it on his 1962 debut album …And Then I Wrote.
Finally, “Night Life” is another track written by Nelson during the early years of his budding music career. Nelson found the inspiration for the song from his travels to work in the evening to Houston, Texas. He would drive from his home in Pasadena, Texas to Houston to sing at the Esquire Ballroom.
Since Nelson still hadn’t made his mark in the music industry in the early ’60s and had bills to pay, he decided to sell the song to guitar instructor Paul Buskirk for $150. Nelson’s record label, D Records, didn’t want the song because they didn’t think it was country enough. Nelson’s record label at the time missed out on the hit song. But in 1963, Bellaire Records reissued the single under its original title of “Night Life” and credited Nelson for his work.