George Strait’s ‘Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me’ Hat-Tips Two Country Legends [Listen]
George Strait's new song is a tribute to a tribute. The singer is part of Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver (Nov. 11), but his selection was released six weeks early.
Listen to Strait singing "Willy the Wandering Gypsy" below.
The 50-year-old song was cut by Waylon Jennings, but written by Shaver. In fact, Rolling Stone called it one of the late outlaw country singer's 10 best in 2020. This new version is more fully produced than the version Billy Joe Shaver would eventually cut, with Strait's sturdy country voice commanding the patient arrangement.
The song is based on life of Willie Nelson, even if the spelling of the first name is different.
"Willy, you’re wild as a Texas Blue Norther / Ready rolled from the same making as me / Well, I reckon we’re gonna ramble ’til Hell freezes over / Willy the wandering gypsy and me," Strait sings in this new cover, with as much respect and appreciation as Shaver.
Nelson is also a part of the tribute album with a cover of "Live Forever" alongside Lucinda Williams. Miranda Lambert ("I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal"), Steve Earle, Ryan Bingham and Nathaniel Rateliff also appear on the album.
Shaver died at age 81 in October 2020 after suffering a stroke. He was a critical part of the success of Jennings' Honky Tonk Heroes album and would go on to release his own iconic records, like Old Five and Dimers Like Me (1973).