Willie Nelson took to the Jimmy Kimmel Live stage on Nov. 10 to perform “Heartaches by the Number.” The song is featured on Nelson’s Ray Price tribute album honoring the singer who passed away in 2013. For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price was released back in September and holds a lot of meaning for the country legend.
Nelson does an excellent job performing Price’s No. 2 song from 1959. His version is fiddle-heavy and though the melody remains the same, Nelson puts his own signature flair on the vocals.
“Heartaches by the Number” is just one of 12 songs Nelson covered on the album. Country icon Vince Gill lent his voice to the track recording and even helped with the arrangement.
Nelson and Price had a lifelong friendship that got its start decades ago. Nelson played bass for Price’s touring band, the Cherokee Cowboys, for a short time in the ’60s. He even wrote Price’s 1963 song “Night Life” for him. Nelson covers that song, as well as “Crazy Arms” and “I’ll Be There,” on the tribute album.
Giving even more meaning to Nelson’s album, he recorded it at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios — where Price recorded his final album, Beauty Is. Nelson worked with producer Fred Foster and string conductor Bergen White, who also worked on Beauty Is, to record the tribute.
“Ray was as a close a friend as you could have,” Nelson stated in a video interview. “We traveled together, lived together, played music together, partied together … and had a lot of good times.”