“Seven Spanish Angels'”
Ray Charles with Willie Nelson
Written by Troy Seals and Eddie Setser
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
March 8, 1985
#1 (1 week)
March 25, 1985
How appropriate to be writing about “Seven Spanish Angels” just days after Willie Nelson joined Ray Charles among the elite group of artists who have been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Seven Spanish Angels” showcases the vocal strengths of both artists, with a subtle production that incorporates light Latin instrumentation, allowing the lyric and the singers to shine.
Garth Brooks once sang that “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers,” but the doomed lovers running for their freedom here would likely disagree with him. The woman’s whispered belief that “God will keep us free” is quickly tested, as her lover is gunned down shortly afterward.
She does get an answer to her second prayer, but she takes that matter into her own hands. Claiming that she cannot live without her man, she picks up a gun that she knows is empty, inviting the riflers to shoot her down as well. They do.
Charles and Nelson deliver this song with the reverence and empathy that it deserves. It feels like the best music often comes from storytelling like this, where characters with such different lives than us listeners can imagine have their stories told with humanity.
In a world where supposedly mainstream politicians now openly discuss shooting migrants at the southern border, we could use a hell of a lot more of this kind of storytelling.
“Seven Spanish Angels” gets an A.