Music

'On the Road Again': The Story Behind Willie Nelson's Oscar-Nominated Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBN86y30Ufc

Willie Nelson is one of the most iconic names in country music. Our pigtailed, sky-high American treasure has written most of his own songs in addition to songs for countless other artists. His name is pretty much synonymous with country music. Of his many classics, "On the Road Again" has become one of his signature songs, as well as a must-listen on any road trip.

Outside of making music, Nelson also dabbled in Hollywood. His first starring role was in the film Honeysuckle Rose in 1980, in a role that hit pretty close to home for Nelson. The lead character, Buck Bonham (played by Nelson), is an aspiring musician who grapples with caring for his family while balancing fame and life on tour. Nelson's tour bus in real life was even named Honeysuckle Rose.

Read More: How 'Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain' Saved Willie Nelson's Career

Shortly after signing his contract for the film, Nelson was on a plane with one of the film's executive producers. They told him that they needed him to write a theme song for the movie, so he quite literally pulled out one of the barf bags from the seatback in front of him and quickly wrote out some lyrics. Nelson told Uncut that he wasn't really sure what to write.

"They were looking for songs for the movie and they started asking me if I had any idea," Nelson recalls. "I said, 'I don't know, what do you want the song to say?' I think Sydney said, 'Can it be something about being on the road?' It just started to click in my head. I said, 'You mean like, 'On the road again, I can't wait to get on the road again'?' They said, 'That's great. What's the melody?' I said, 'I don't know yet.'"

To say the song was an instant success would be an understatement. Nelson not only won a Grammy award for Best Country Song but earned an Academy Award nomination and a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame. The song is widely included on lists for the best songs of all time. This was one of Nelson's greatest crossover hits of the time, ranking on both the country and adult contemporary Billboard charts. Most notably, the song remains one of his most recognizable. It's still being covered by other musicians today and is widely used in popular culture and films.

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This story previously ran on July 10, 2020.

"On the Road Again" Lyrics

On the road again
I just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Like a band of Gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turnin' our way
And our way is on the road again

I just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again, break free
And I can't wait to get on the road again

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'On the Road Again': The Story Behind Willie Nelson's Oscar-Nominated Song