Wordy beyond its title, “Ride Willie Ride (Or Thoughts I Had While Contemplating Both the Metaphysical Nature of Willie Nelson and His Harassment By The Internal Revenue Service)” sounds more like a one-way conversation with a rambling fan of Nelson’s than a typical country song. But it comes from a real place, with Alabama-based singer, songwriter and folk artist Abe Partridge writing it while grappling with his own personal life struggles.
“”Ride Willie Ride’ was a song I wrote while I was simultaneously exploring the catalog of Willie Nelson and undergoing my own IRS woes,” Partridge says. “The verses are a bit scattered, but that is the way you think when a force as unforgiving as the state is coming after you.”
Although it fits the mood of recent album Cotton Fields & Blood For Days, Partridge wasn’t initially sold on the song as something worth playing live, much less recording in the studio.
“The song was born in about a week,” he says. “I thought it was terrible. The only reason it made it on the record is because Shawn (Bryne, a guitarist, mandolin player and bassist) and I were fooling around in Nashville singing songs. I dug this one out, and he dug it. I had never played it live before recording it in the studio. It has since become regular on my live sets, and it seems to connect with folks.”
In the video, a couple of proverbial men in black tote off Partridge’s stuff, down to his last few dollars, as he plays the song. When he tries to either distract himself or make some much-needed cash by creating art, they see it as kindling for an already blazing fire. The song and video share one clear message — If it pays a creative person’s bills, the IRS wants a cut, whether you’re Johnny Paycheck, Nelson or Partridge.