Willie Nelson Paul Nelson - Essay

Joe Nick Patoski

Paul Nelson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Red Headed Stranger is extraordinarily ambitious, cool, tightly controlled. A phonographic Western movie which brilliantly evokes the mythopoetic imagery of McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Shane and the works of John Ford, the album traces the life of a Montana cowboy who finds his true love with another man, kills both of them and later another woman, then drifts through Denver dance halls into old age, forever unable to cut his early loss but managing in the final years of his life a moving, believable and not unwarranted synthesis of all he has missed. The narrative may not sound especially promising or unusual—like most fables, it is, after all, the same old story. That is its point—but in Nelson's...

(The entire section is 536 words.)