Even before I could fully appreciate the simplicity, beauty, and power of “Red Headed Stranger” it was one of my favorite albums. I’m talking about from a very young age. My parents had it on wax, and I think the only two albums I listened to more were a Jerry Reed Live album and the Smokey and the Bandit soundtrack (if you ever doubted by credentials as a Jerry Reed fan, that’s something to consider).
There are two things about this album that really stand out, especially when compared to the
music stuff being played on country radio today.
First of all, this is an album. Yes, the songs are good enough to stand on their own but there are multiple story arcs going on, and together the songs tell a single story. Not all albums that were albums back then did this, but at least they were able to contribute to a single theme back in the day (Waylon’s “Honky Tonk Heroes” for example).
The second thing that stands out, and is paramount, is that there is scant production. The songs stands for themselves without effects and over-arrangement.
Take note aspiring singers and songwriters. “Red Headed Stranger” is what fearless authenticity sounds like.