The Texas 30: Willie Nelson's Best Albums of the Past 30 Years

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Willie Nelson's Across the Borderline is one of the albums that made it onto our Texas 30 list of the best 30 Texas albums of the past 30 years, which runs later today.

We promise that you will dig it, and hate it, which is how it's supposed to be.


The Texas 30: The Third Runners-Up, Albums 60-51

The Texas 30: The Second Runners-Up, Albums 50-41

We've already showed you the albums that barely made the cut in blogs previous, but today you will get to see the albums that our esteemed group of voters deemed worthy of the big 30.

From all the votes, I culled together the Willie Nelson albums that got mentioned in the balloting. He's made a metric ton of music since 1982, with numerous friends and musicians.

What, no Rainbow Connection or Songbird? Well, even I left off the Ryan Adams-produced Songbird from my ballot, because I'm greedy and don't want anyone else to get into it.

Me & Paul (1985) Me & Paul gets overlooked in a busy decade of release for Nelson, but it's worth seeking out, scarce on compact disc and vinyl as it is. You all know the title track by heart, or you should. It's in nearly everyone of his recent live sets.

Willie & the Wheel (2009) Willie & The Wheel teamed Nelson with fellow state treasures Asleep at the Wheel for a set of Texas swing standards. Like butter. Sweet butter melting inside a biscuit.

Spirit (1996) It's strange to think almost 20 years ago Willie went maudlin and sparse on Teatro No. 46), when he would still be recording and touring two decades later. It obviously wasn't his time to settle down. Utterly funereal with a distinct Spanish guitar lilt, at times Spirit is heart-wrenching, with most songs sounding ready-made for a wake or the final goodbye from a widower sitting graveside.

Pancho & Lefty (1983) Merle Haggard and Nelson team up to conquer the world all over with the title track and a sack full of sad-bastard cuts.

Always On My Mind (1982) This LP barely made it into our balloting, since it came along in February 1982. The title track would go on to become and classic, and his rendition of Gary P. Nunn's "Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning" sways beautifully in the Central Texas wind.

You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker (2006) Nelson takes on the songs of Cindy Walker, a renowned country singer-songwriter whose songs were covered by the Byrds, Ray Charles, Dean Martin, Mickey Gilley, Eddy Arnold (her sometime collaborator), Elvis Presley, and others.

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