“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”
Written by Willie Nelson
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
February 27, 1981
#1 (1 week)
March 21, 1981
Willie Nelson follows “On the Road Again,” which could’ve been a No. 1 hit by anybody, with “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” a No. 1 hit that nobody else in country music history could’ve taken to the top.
This song has a barely there musical track, deeply philosophical lyrics, and a vocal performance that is as idiosyncratic as Willie Nelson gets. “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” is the kind of record that is supposed to be a deep cut shared among the most knowledgeable music fans as they scoff at the radio fare that casual listeners embrace.
Its success is a reminder that the country music audience will readily embrace smart and sophisticated material when given the chance, which makes the shallow content usually in heavy rotation all the more frustrating.
Nelson followed Honeysuckle Rose with Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a collection of standards in the same vein as his landmark Stardust album. It produced the top fifteen hit “Mona Lisa” and the top thirty hit “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”
We’ll see Nelson again in 1982 with the biggest hit of his career.
“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” gets an A.
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