Shotgun Willie

Album: Shotgun Willie (1973)

Songfacts®:

  • The tale behind the title of Willie Nelson's Shotgun Willie album is an interesting one. The story goes that Nelson's daughter, Susie, told him that her sister Lana was being abused by her husband, Paul Warren. Nelson drove to Lana's house, where he fought with Warren, and threatened to kill him if he ever hit his daughter again. Soon after Nelson arrived home, Warren arrived in his truck with his brothers and they started to shoot at his house. Nelson and his drummer, Paul English, retaliated with their own rifles, causing the aggressors to surrender and earning Nelson the nickname of 'Shotgun Willie.'
  • Nelson wrote the lyrics for the song that would become the title track whilst sat on the toilet in the bathroom of the hotel that he was staying at whilst recording the album. He scribbled them on the empty packaging of a sanitary napkin.
  • Not everyone was a fan of this song. In his 1988 autobiography, Willie, Nelson recalled Kris Kristofferson calling the tune "mind farts." Nelson added, "Maybe so, but I thought of it more as clearing my throat."

    Kristofferson often joined Nelson at "guitar pulling" sessions where songwriters would gather to critique each other's work. "You might say it's like a bunch of Old West gunfights coming together to see who is best - only instead of slapping their holsters and coming up with six-guns blazing, they unsnap their guitar cases and come up singing," he explained.

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