On This Day: Willie Nelson’s ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ Movie Opens in Theaters in 1980

by Clayton Edwards

Willie Nelson has gained a long list of titles over the course of his career. He’s a country music icon and pioneer of the Outlaw movement. At the same time, Willie is a masterful songwriter and musician. Additionally, many people think of him as America’s cool reefer-scented uncle. There is a lot to unpack there. So, it’s easy to see why many folks overlook Willie’s acting career.

Over the years, Willie Nelson has been in several movies and television shows. For instance, he was in the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie. Nelson also starred alongside the other Highwaymen in a made-for-television remake of the John Wayne classic Stage Coach. His first acting role was in a 1978 episode of The Rockford Files. Just two years later, Nelson landed his first starring role in Honeysuckle Rose.

In Honeysuckle Rose, Willie Nelson plays Buck Bonham, an aging country singer. Buck is successful but not hugely popular. He has a band, a nationwide tour, and a family to take care of. At one point, his longtime guitarist quits the band and his daughter steps up to fill the slot. Before long, she admits to having a crush on Buck. That escalates into an affair.

The plot focuses on the love triangle between Buck, his wife, and his young mistress. However, it is, more than anything else, a showcase for Willie Nelson’s music. The Honeysuckle Rose soundtrack tracklist reads like an album of Willie Nelson’s greatest hits. It contains songs like “Whiskey River,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and “Bloody Mary Morning.”

Willie Nelson Scores a Hit with Honeysuckle Rose Soundtrack

The most notable addition to the Honeysuckle Rose soundtrack, though, is now one of Willie Nelson’s signature songs. He wrote and recorded “On the Road Again,” for the movie. That song went on to be Willie’s sixth solo chart-topper on Billboard’s country singles chart. It also charted well on the Hot 100 as well as the Adult Contemporary chart.

After landing the role in Honeysuckle Rose, Willie Nelson was on a flight with the film’s director and executive producer. While on the flight, they talked to Nelson about songs for the album. They told him they needed an original song about being on the road. Before the plane landed, Willie had written the lyrics to “On the Road Again,” on an air sickness bag, according to Songfacts.

That song went on to be the theme for Honeysuckle Rose and helped to drive sales of the film’s soundtrack.

Willie Nelson is still on the road and making music with his friends. He shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. So, it seems that the lyrics in the song were true. Willie loves what he does and will keep doing it until he can’t anymore.

If you don’t have time to watch Honeysuckle Rose today, go listen to the soundtrack. It’s a great way to close out your weekend.