Willie Nelson Shares 1981 ‘Whiskey River’ Performance From Austin City Limits

by Emily Morgan

It may not be Thursday, but we’re giving you a throwback that’s one for the ages. Recently, country music’s favorite outlaw, Willie Nelson, posted a throwback clip of his “Austin City Limits” performance from way back in 1981. And man, does it have us missing live country music.

Even though the clip is just shy of three minutes, it’s impossible not to marvel at the country music greatness that unfolds. In the clip, Nelson performs his Grammy-nominated, “Whiskey River,” off his 1973 album, Shotgun Willie. 

While he may not have won a Grammy for the song, he won everyone’s hearts when the red-headed stranger busted out the tune in his Lone Star State. Backed by a full band, rocking his signature braids and with trusty ole’ Trigger by his side, the performance was classic Willie.  

Whiskey River take my mind,
Don’t let her mem’ry torture me.
Whiskey River don’t run dry,
You’re all I’ve got, take care of me

ACL Producer: ‘There Would Be No Austin City Limits Without Willie Nelson’

As his instantly recognizable voice haunts your ears, you can also hear audience members cheering and singing along in the background. Invigorated with an energy only country music shows like that can provide, it’s evident how Nelson’s had a career that’s stood the test of time. His laidback vibe may be the hallmark of his performances, yet providing fans with an experience unlike any other is something he’s always taken seriously. 

“There would be no ‘Austin City Limits‘ without Willie Nelson — simple as that,” the show’s Executive Producer Terry Lickona once said. “He launched ‘ACL’ into the television universe in 1974 and has helped keep us going for 45 years. It was truly emotional to witness such an outpouring of love from the audience. This show is Willie Nelson, plain and simple.”

According to its website, the Austin City Limits Music Festival will host its annual gathering this October. The dates for the two-weekend long event are Oct. 1-3 and 8-10 of2021. The festival will return to Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

“We can’t wait to see you Oct. 1-3 & 8-10, 2021 back in Zilker Park,” read a statement on the festival’s website. “Until then, stay safe, [and] take care of each other.”

The in-person festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the festival tried to remedy the cancellation by hosting a virtual broadcast on Oct. 9-11, 2020. Fans could watch streams of previous ACL sets, including sets from Paul McCartney, Radiohead, Phish, and of course, Willie Nelson.