Lost Tuneage

"After the Fire Is Gone": A Near-Forgotten Willie (and Tracy) Nelson Classic

To hear Tracy Nelson tell it, her decision to ask Willie Nelson to sing a duet with her on "After the Fire Is Gone" was mostly just kismet meeting standard industry practice.

"I loved that song and knew I wanted to cover it just as soon as I heard the Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn version that was such a huge hit in 1971," recalls Nelson, no relation to the Red Headed Stranger, from her home outside Nashville.

Primarily considered a blues singer, she had recently left her band Mother Earth and signed a solo deal with Atlantic Records. Written by L.E. White, a close associate of Twitty's who had been in Bill Monroe's band before turning mostly to songwriting, "After The Fire Is Gone" was Twitty and Lynn's first No. 1 as a duo. It also won them a Grammy for Best Country Duet.

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William Michael Smith