Music

Country Rewind: Willie Nelson + Lee Ann Womack's Award-Winner 'Mendocino County Line'

Lee Ann Womack and Willie Nelson embrace after performing "Mendocino County Line" at the 37th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards Wednesday, May 22, 2002, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Memorable duets are a big part of Willie Nelson's legacy. Even casual fans can rattle off Nelson's work with Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Julio Iglesias. There's some successful yet less obvious team-ups, as well, such as Grammy award winner "Mendocino County Line," featuring Lee Ann Womack.

Nelson and fellow Texan Womack cut "Mendocino County Line" for Nelson's 50th career album, 2002's The Great Divide. The album's producer Matt Serletic co-wrote the song with longtime Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin.

The tale of a love that's not meant to last became Nelson's first Top 40 hit on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart since 1990's "Ain't Necessarily So." The Grammy winner (Best Country Collaboration) also got its own music video, directed by Mark Seliger and filmed on Nelson's Texas property, the Luck Ranch.

While weighing where this Grammy winner fits among Nelson's greatest hits, don't overlook the contributions of Womack. She was one of the few country music artists at the time with the storytelling chops to elevate the work of Nelson (much less a pop songwriter the caliber of Taupin).

The Great Divide features other duets, teaming Nelson with fellow roots icon Bonnie Raitt ("You Remain"), rapper Kid Rock ("Last Stand in Open Country") and R&B star Brian McKnight ("Don't Fade Away"). In addition, Nelson covers Mickey Newbury ("Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)") and Cyndi Lauper ("Time After Time"). Three additional songs ("Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me)," "Won't Catch Me Cryin'" and "Recollection Phoenix") were written by Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas.

"Mendocino County Line" Lyrics

Counted the stars on the 4th of July
Wishing they were rockets bursting into the sky
Talking about redemption and leaving things behind
As the sun sank west of the Mendocino county line

As fierce as Monday morning feeling washed away
Our orchestrated paradise couldn't make you stay
You dance with the horses through the sands of time
As the sun sinks west of the Mendocino county line

I have these pictures and I keep these photographs
To remind me of a time
These pictures and these photographs
Let me know I'm doing fine
I used to make you happy once upon a time
But the sun sank west of the Mendocino county line

The two of us together felt nothing but right
Feeling you near immortal every Friday night
Lost in our convictions left stained with wine
As the sun sank west of the Mendocino county line

I have these pictures and I keep these photographs
To remind me of a time
These pictures and these photographs
Let me know I'm doing fine
I used to make you happy once upon a time
But the sun sank west of the Mendocino county line

I don't talk to you too much these days
I just thank the Lord pictures don't fade
I spent time with an angel just passing through
Now all that's left is this image of you

Counted the stars on the 4th of July
Wishing we were rockets bursting in the sky
Talking about redemption and leaving things behind
I have these pictures and I keep these photographs
To remind me of a time
These pictures and these photographs
Let me know i'm doing fine
We used to be so happy once upon a time
Once upon a time
But the sun sank west of the Mendocino county line
And the sun sank west of the Mendocino county line

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Country Rewind: Willie Nelson + Lee Ann Womack's Award-Winner 'Mendocino County Line'