The union of two styles of music can often produce dramatically interesting results, and so it was with the 1983 performance of “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” an eventual #1 single for the Red Headed Stranger and the Latin pop icon Julio Iglesias. Although the song failed to meet with the highest critical acclaim, it was proof positive that genre boundaries can be eliminated with the talent of two strong artists.
Its almost-campy quality notwithstanding, the performance of “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” still stands as a demonstration of country music’s ability to touch those in other genres of music, and at that time demonstrated the cultural pervasiveness of Nelson and his ability to blend with just about anybody. And the moment seemingly spawned, for better or worse, the cross-pollination of genres in numerous future CMA performances. Since the 1983 ceremony, Jewel & Merle Haggard, Elton John & Dolly Parton and Little Richard & Tanya Tucker, among others, have all joined forces on the CMA stage.
“To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” eventually became the #1 most-played song on country radio in 1984. The unlikely duo returned to CMA prominence in 1984, when they earned the Vocal Event of the Year honor. Nelson is the winner of 9 CMA awards including Album of the Year twice, but curiously, never accepted the coveted trophy for Male Vocalist of the Year.
Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” (1983)