We Need Tyler Childers to Release This Willie Nelson ‘Time of the Preacher’ Cover

by Clayton Edwards

Tyler Childers currently has three studio albums full of great songs. Purgatory is a classic, Country Squire is just as good, and Long Violent History was a wonderful surprise in 2020. However, if you’re a fan of Childers, you know that some of his best songs haven’t made it to an album yet. For instance, killer tunes like “Out on a Drunk,” “Pray Over the Moonshine Still,” and “Nose on the Grindstone” are top-notch. However, he hasn’t pressed them yet. Those songs may never make it to an album.

Back in 2018, Tyler Childers appeared on The Blues Kitchen while on a European tour. While there, he played a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Time of the Preacher” and added another song to the list of tunes that we wish he’d officially release.

Before playing the tune, Tyler Childers talked about the first time he heard it. Surprisingly, he didn’t hear it on a Willie Nelson record. Instead, Childers heard a friend of his cover it while sitting in a garage. He recalls thinking, “Sh*t, I wanna play that.” And, here we are. Check out the video below. The discussion leading up to the song is pretty interesting. However, if you want to skip to the music, Tyler starts singing at 9:20. He plays “Time of the Preacher” by Willie Nelson, then goes right into “Banded Clovis” from Purgatory.

Tyler Childers Makes ‘Time of the Preacher’ His Own

It doesn’t matter if he’s playing an original song or a cover, Tyler Childers is at his best when it’s just him and his guitar. Sure, cuts of his songs with a full band are great. However, Childers is the kind of artist that will make you fall in love with solo acoustic performances. This is when the expressiveness in his vocals and the emotion that he puts behind them can truly shine.

His cover of “Time of the Preacher” is a great example of this. Not only does he pour his entire soul into singing but he also changes the tempo and the lyrics a bit. He sped up the Willie Nelson song and played it much like he does “Banded Clovis” which makes the two flow together almost seamlessly.

Additionally, Tyler Childers changed the final lyric of the song. Willie Nelson sings “It was the time of the preacher / in the year of 01 / Now the preachin’ is over / and the lesson’s begun,” in both the Red-Headed Stranger version of the song and the live recording from Austin City Limits below. Childers, on the other hand, ends his cover with “and the killin’s begun,” and shows that one word can make a huge difference. The change also further smooths the transition between the cover and Childers’ Appalachian murder ballad.

Between this and his covers of Kris Kristofferson and John Prine, I think we can all agree that we just need Tyler Childers to drop a covers album.