While Willie Nelson could have long ago hung up his hat with his head held high, the country legend instead closed out the second night of the 2020 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. This was Nelson’s eleventh return to the rotating stage – where nine of these are solo performances while the other two were with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash as the Highwaymen.
And in yet another subtle, steady showmanship, Nelson performed in front of more than 70,000 fans with a 19-song set composed of some of the most popular Wille Nelson songs. He kicked off the show with “Whiskey River” and weaved in iconic songs like “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” “On The Road Again,” and of course “Always On My Mind,” which earned him a standing ovation.
He Made Sure To Pay Tribute To Pay Tribute To His Late Friends
As he launched into “Good Hearted Woman,” Willie Nelson hollered to the crowd, “Let’s do one for Waylon!” Nelson co-wrote the country ballad with Jennings in 1969. It was then recorded by Jennings, but the two later released it as a duet – which turned out to be a smash success, charting No. 1.
Three songs later in the show, the country legend decided to dedicate “It’s All Going To Pot” to his friend Merle Haggard. It’s actually the first single the two released from their 2015 final collaborative album, Django & Jimmie.
The show went on with Nelson performing a couple of hits of Hank Williams and eventually moved into one of his most heartbreaking ballads, “Always On My Mind,” which sent a hush over the crowd.
Fans were also quick to notice Nelson getting emotional in the middle of his performance, pointing to the sky several times. Many believed this was because of his best friend and longtime drummer, Paul English, who sadly died just a few weeks before the 2020 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Though Nelson did not write “Always On My Mind,” it helped him take home three Grammy Awards – making the song even more special to him. You can watch the poignant performance below.
Willie Nelson shed a tear after singing “Always On My Mind” at the Houston Rodeo. Iconic performance from a GOAT! pic.twitter.com/cVL4L23Ihv— 🤷🏾♂️ (@SirTwo80) March 5, 2020