The legendary country singer Willie Nelson is no stranger to songs about regret. In fact, one of his biggest career hits was about one – his 1972 track “Always on My Mind.” Then, he did a cover of Waylon Jennings’ “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” in 1980, which made it number one. And then he nailed it again with another chart-topper, “Nothing I Can Do About It Now” from his 1989 album A Horse Called Music.
Written by Beth Nielsen Chapman, this track is the 14th of the 18 Willie Nelson number-one hit songs.
Meaning Behind the Song
“Nothing I Can Do About It Now” is the opening track on the singer’s 37th album, and it follows a man haunted by his regrets.
In the first part of the song, he talks about the picture at the back of his mind, the memories of his regrets. Then, midway into it, there’s introspection and a realization: Time will inevitably pass. Mistakes should be acknowledged but wallowing in it is futile. And that the more important thing is to accept the things that have happened and focus on the present.
As Nelson sings, “I could cry for the time I’ve wasted, but that’s a waste of time and tears.”
And in the end, he offers a very insightful lesson to everyone who always looks over their burdened shoulders. That is, “forgiving everything that forgiveness will allow.” It’s a simple line, but it’s something people often miss out on in the process of moving forward. And it’s an important step, too.
Aside from the thought-provoking lyrics, this song also showcases his signature vocal style, marked by an ambivalent mix of melancholy and warmth. His voice phrased each idea with such an emotional depth as if hearing sincere advice from someone you’ve known for a long time. And this ability to connect with the material and convey sincerity in his performance has been a hallmark of his musical career.
If you’re finding yourself burdened with your past, listening to Willie Nelson‘s introspective track “Nothing I Can Do About It Now” would be a great way to take things into perspective. Catch it below.