Classic CMA Awards Moments, #25: Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” (1983)

#25: Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias
“To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”

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)


  1. Stop! Make it stop! That’s way too creepy. Willie, you’ve come a long way baby. From a mess like this to your recent project with Wynton Marsalis. Must be better smoke around these days. Then again…maybe not.

  2. i don’t know about willie nelson, but when it comes to julio iglesias, there are some 1000 women being personally greeted with this song.

  3. Looking forward to the list! I used to love the CMA’s…till they moved from the Opry House (Now I sound like an old man…) So Many great moments…Dolly sitting on Randy’s lap (but not before asking Strait if he “rented” the prettiest girl in town…Cindy Walker’s HOF speech… Reba’s then shocking, now par for the course, red dress…Loretta, Dolly, and Tammy showing everyone what a “star” is…cant wait!!!!!!!!!
    Also, wasn’t the Vocal Event not introduced until the ’88 CMA’s when Trio took it home?

  4. Nice to hear some enthusiasm, sheldon.

    Willie and Julio technically won the Vocal Duo award, but at that time it included (almost exclusively) artists who did not primarily record together. The Vocal Duo, Vocal Group and Vocal Event categories did in fact switch in 1988. (The Judds were placed in Vocal Group from ’84-’87, but changed to Duo in ’88 and beyond.)

  5. The song was not great for me, but it was a great thing for Julio, as I had never heard about him before this song. And how can anyone belittle Willie on this board?

    After all Willie made the following quote:

    ‘I outlived my pen1s.’

    So what does one do when this happens but enjoy good smoke?

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