Music

Willie Nelson Covered Johnny Paycheck's 'I'm the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised' for New Album

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey (2)

The latest track shared from Willie Nelson's First Rose of Spring, "I'm The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised," comes from country legend Johnny Paycheck's peak year as an outlaw innovator.

"The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised" (titled "The Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)" for Paycheck) was co-written by Wayne Kemp (George Strait's "The Fireman"), Bobby Borchers (Tanya Tucker's "The Jamestown Ferry") and Mack Vickery (Waylon Jennings' "The Eagle), with Vickery first recording it in 1975 under the name Atlanta James.

The song's greatest success came in 1977 as a single off Paycheck's Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets LP. It suited the sound and image of Paycheck, who's next single, David Allan Coe's "Take This Job and Shove It," became his first and only No. 1 hit.

Prior cover versions found the song embraced by cowpunks (The Blasters) and even a metal band (DevilDriver). It also suited Hank Williams III's country music meets heavy rock sound.

Nelson's lyric video strategically dropped a few days before Mother's Day and, by chance, arrived right before the passing of Little Richard, whose music normalized Paycheck's rebellious streak (and Baptist guilt) long before Willie and Waylon sought creative freedom.

Read More: Hear Willie Nelson's 'Our Song,' Written by Chris Stapleton

Upcoming album First Rose of Spring, the 70th of Nelson's storied career, arrives on July 3.

"The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised" Lyrics

I can tell my mama's short on loving me
I guess that's why she let me go so far
Mama tried to stop me short of stealing
I guess that's why I had to steal that car

She told me not to smoke it
But I did and it took me far away
And I turned out to be
The only hell my mama ever raised

Well, I rolled into Atlanta, stolen tags and almost out of gas
Yeah, I had to get some money, lately I'd learned how to get it fast
Those neon lights was calling me and somehow I just had to get downtown
So I reached into the glove box, another liquor store went down

And I said 'Precious memories', take me back to the good ol' days'
Let me hear my men and sing, 'Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me'
She tried to turn me on to Jesus, but I turned on to the devil's ways
And I turned out to be the only hell my mama ever raised

When they put them handcuffs on me, Lord how I fought to resist
But agent clamped 'em tighter, 'til that metal bit into my wrist
They took my belt and my billfold, my fingerprints, and the profile of my face
And then they locked away the only hell my mama ever ever raised

And I'd sing 'Precious memories', take me back to the good ol' days'
Let me hear mama singing, 'Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me'
She tried to turn me on to Jesus, but I turned on to the devil's ways
And I turned out to be the only hell my mama ever raised
She tried to turn me on to Jesus, but I turned on to the devil's ways
And I turned out to be the only hell my mama ever raised

Now Watch: 15 Things You Didn't Know About Willie Nelson

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Willie Nelson Covered Johnny Paycheck's 'I'm the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised' for New Album