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August 30, 1980 – “On the Road Again” hits the charts

On this day in 1980, Willie Nelson’s hit song “On the Road Again” entered the Billboard 100 charts at #78. Nelson wrote the tune on a barf bag while traveling on an airplane after being co-passengers director Jerry Schatzberg and executive producer Sydney Pollack asked him to write a song for their upcoming film Honeysuckle Rose. Nelson would star in the film, which followed an aging country star who had yet to achieve the fame he dreamed of.

Top: Willie Nelson in 2007. By Auld Rasmie – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

In the movie, the character spent much of his time on the road playing small venues all across the country. When the producer asked Nelson to create a song, Nelson asked what he wanted it to be about. The producer responded “Can it be something about being on the road?” Nelson said at that moment it just clicked and the American driving anthem was born in pen. While the movie was not very successful, the tune did peak at number 20 on the Top 100 charts and hit #1 on the Billboard Top Country Songs chart for a week. It also netted Nelson a Grammy for best country song.

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