Willie Nelson’s Seven Spanish Angels is a duet song with American musician Ray Charles. The song was penned by Troy Seals and Eddie Setser and was originally released in November 1984 for Charles’ album titled Friendship. In 1985, Willie Nelson included the song in his compilation album titled Half Nelson.
According to the songwriters, it was Setser who suggested the title, and the whole theme of the song was written by Seals as a tribute to the Tejano-flavored classic hits of Marty Robbins like El Paso. The song was about a tragic and heartbreaking story of an outlaw and his lover trying to outrun armed men who were sent to return them to Texas. Before the commencement of the final gunfight, the couple embraced each other believing that God will spare them. But the outlaw was immediately shot and killed, and his lover followed.
When Seals and Setser finished the song, they didn’t know who was going to record it since Marty was dead. But two days later, the song was pitched to country music legend Willie Nelson to which the musician readily reserved the song. But before he was able to record it, producer Billy Sherrill heard the demo and wanted the song for Ray Charles. Since the song had already been reserved, Sherrill proposed a duet.
The voices of two phenomenal country music artists made an alternating combination for the verse; then Ray Charles sang both first and second choruses while Nelson joined in for the outro. The song received a warm recognition from fans earning Charles another chart-topping hit and his most successful as well on the country chart.
In 2015, Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson performed the famous duet in honor of Willie Nelson during the Gershwin Prize Awards Ceremony. The award was dedicated to celebrate the artist’s six-decade career. Nelson got emotional watching the collaboration, which was one of the most emotional renditions of the song.
You can watch the original performance of Willie Nelson’s Seven Spanish Angels duet with Ray Charles below. Make sure that you get some tissues before you listen because this is one of the Willie Nelson songs that will surely make you cry.
Ray Charles, Willie Nelson