It is tough to imagine a world without Willie Nelson.
For country singer/songwriter Erin Enderlin, it’s damn near impossible to think about what life would be like without him.
The country legend is inarguably one of the most influential icons in the whole of music across all genres, and in country music, he’s revered as not only one of the pioneers of outlaws, but also a tender wordsmith who can have you both raising a ruckus in a honky-tonk and falling softly into someone’s arms. Heck, sometimes all at the same time.
For a very young Enderlin, it was love at first listen.
“When I was four years old, my Papaw gave me four albums: Conway Twitty, The Statler Brothers, Kenny Rogers and Waylon & Willie,” Enderlin told CMT.com. “I was immediately hooked on ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,’ and if I ever had a prayer of doing anything else besides be obsessed with country music for the rest of my life it was gone. The first song I learned on piano was ‘On the Road Again.’ Are you noticing a trend?”
Enderlin had been on the road with Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour, watching his set from the side of the stage night after night, listening to the stories, the melodies and thinking to herself what her own career path would be like if his iconic songs didn’t exist.
Clearly, it was destiny, a clear-cut path that led her to her latest single ’World Without Willie’ a cleverly crafted, heartfelt tribute to the legend so devoted and purely country that it could bring a tear to Nelson’s eye, and of course, a smile to his face.
An utterly masterful songwriter, Enderlin’s signature turn-of-phrase shines on the track as it seamlessly blends some of the most memorable Nelson titles and characters into verse like a vivid mosaic of the outlaw himself.
Tara Thompson also performs on this track as a background vocalist, completely in her element singing tried-and-true timeless country music, and a song about Nelson, who sits at the very top of her influences and favorites list.
“He has a way of speaking to my soul and relieving all my worries,” Thompson told CMT.com.
“One of my favorite lines is ‘The nightlife would kill me if we didn’t have Willie around,’ because he is truly what got me through those late-night shifts singing in bars for so many years. ‘Paying my way with the change from that ole tip jar’ is literally what I did for almost 8 years of my life. It wasn’t easy but Willie sure helped me get through it,” she said.
Alex Kline, who produced the track and provided all the instrumentation except for harmonica appears in the video, along with her pup “Patsy Kline,” who makes a perfectly adorable cameo at the perfect moment.
As for the harmonica player on the song — well it could only be Nelson’s longtime harmonica Mickey Raphael.
“My biggest hope for this song is that maybe someone will be listening and won’t know one of the Willie songs referenced and go find it and fall in love with it the way I did,” Enderlin said.
The tao of Willie is definitely good news to spread.