Willie’s Birthday Gift to You: 1976 ACL Taping Hits YouTube at 4:20 Today

Live in-studio capture of Red Headed Stranger front-to-back

Leave it up to Willie Nelson to celebrate his 87th birthday by giving us a present.

Willie Nelson at the 1976 taping of Austin City Limits

For likely the very first time since his 1933 birth in Abbott, there’ll be no live music in America today, so fans of country music’s Texan sage may find themselves understandably bored. His camp throws us stay-at-homers a bone with the YouTube premiere of his 1976 appearance on Austin City Limits. That hardly qualifies as your run-of-the-mill televised concert.

Rather, those tuning in will witness Willie & Family at their most transformative, having just laid out the holy tablets of the progressive country movement: Red Headed Stranger. The performance, Nelson’s second of over a dozen appearances on the everlasting PBS program, features the concept album about an outlaw on the run for the murder of his wife and her lover front-to-back, from “Time of the Preacher” to “Bandera,” with hits “Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain” and “Remember Me” in between.

The 44-year-old footage arrives on your screen as a fundraiser for Nelson’s signature charity, Farm Aid, which will be accepting donations via the YouTube page. The episode airs at 4:20 CST right here.

Icing on the proverbial cake? Willie’s also gearing up for the July 3 release of his 70th solo studio album, First Rose of Spring. The tender Chris Stapleton-penned lead single, “Our Song,” emerged earlier this month and is worth a spot on your quarantine playlist.

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Willie Nelson, Austin City Limits, Red Headed Stranger, Chris Stapleton, First Rose of Spring, Farm Aid, PBS

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