"There's a song I wrote for Willie Nelson, and I could always hear him singing it," Lee says. "I played it a few times at Gilley's a long time ago. It stuck with me, you know. I never forgot it, so there had to be something to it."
Lee, a still-active singer and songwriter whose name should rekindle more than Urban Cowboy nostalgia, recruited Nelson to play guitar on one of the standout tracks off forthcoming album Everything's Gonna Be Alright (out Feb. 12 on BFD/Audium Nashville).
"I texted Willie Nelson and asked him if he'd play guitar on it," Lee recalls. "He sent me a text right back and said, 'Absolutely.' What? So I sent it to the studio, and a few days later I got it back. I told Buddy (Hyatt), I said, 'Don't touch that mix. Don't turn a guitar down anywhere.' My steel player said, 'Hey, Willie's walking on me.' I said, 'That's his right.' Willie can walk on anybody, right?"
Everything's Gonna Be Alright also features a title track that offers hope throughout life's storms plus a cover of the first country song Lee ever learned, Jack Greene's No. 1 hit from 1969, "Statue of a Fool."
Lee scored five No. 1 hits of his own between 1980-'84: "Lookin' For Love," "One in a Million," "Bet Your Heart on Me," "The Yellow Rose" (with Lane Brody) and "You Could've Heard a Heartbreak." He's also known for a couple of different versions of Michael Martin Murphey's "Cherokee Fiddle": the one heard on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack and a 1982 re-release featuring Charlie Daniels on fiddle.
As for his guest guitarist, it's safe to assume that anyone interested in learning more about Lee's new album is no stranger to the Red Headed Stranger's unreal life and storied career.