Can you still remember when Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack’s duet of “Mendocino County Line” won the Texans a Grammy award for Best Country Collaboration in 2002? It was absolutely one of the best moments in country music history.
The song was released in January 2002 as the lead-off single from Nelson’s album The Great Divide. It went to Top 40 Hit on the United States country chart, peaking at No. 22. It was Nelson’s first Top 40 Hit on that chart since 1990, making it a temporary resurgence in popularity for the country icon.
A Song About a Love That Has Long Been Fading
Written by Matt Serletic and Bernie Taupin, “Mendocino County Line” is a ballad about a faded love that burns out somewhere near California
“I have these pictures, and I keep these photographs to remind me of a time. These pictures and these photographs let me know I’m doin’ fine. I used to make you happy once upon a time, but the sun sank west of the Mendocino County line,” the song goes.
It was a full-circle moment for Lee Ann Womack, who was always determined to follow her idols’ footsteps. She worked in the music industry as a promoter and songwriter for some years. While attending Belmont University for a brief period, she secured a student internship in the A&R department at MCA Records. Womack was determined to one day record where George Strait did. She was a dedicated follower of his, and Nelson was another childhood icon of hers.
The Song Received Favorable Reviews From Music Critics
Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack couldn’t be more different from each other, but the two have the power of another variety. Womack sang her part with a noticeable ache and yearning, while Nelson was a bit more reserved, acknowledging the good memories but reminding us that they are, in fact, just memories.
So it was no longer a surprise when the song received favorable reviews from music critics. Deborah Evans Price of Billboard magazine, for instance, said that when Lee Ann Womack sang the chorus, “there’s a tender, almost epic feeling to her heartache.” When it comes to country icon Willie Nelson, she said that he “imbues each line with the kind of emotional integrity that has become his trademark.” She concluded her review by calling the song “absolutely magical.”
Mario Tarradel of The Dallas Morning News, on the other hand, described the song and wrote, “They do sound good together; their voices compliment each other like leather softened by lace.”
The music video for “Mendocino County Line” was as iconic as the song. Though it was not filmed anywhere near Mendocino County, it was instead filmed at Willie Nelson’s Luck, Texas property. You can watch the music video below.