5 Songs You Didn’t Know Willie Nelson Wrote for Other Artists

While he’s one of the most beloved country music performers of all time, sometimes fans forget that the 90-year-old Texas-born musician Willie Nelson is also one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

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A former radio DJ, Nelson released his debut studio LP, …And Then I Wrote, in 1962. Later, he became one of the famed Outlaw Country artists, along with the likes of Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson.

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But along with being a skilled performer and music icon, Nelson has written seemingly countless songs for other artists, from the lesser-known to the famous. Below, we dive into a handful of those tracks. Indeed, these are five songs you didn’t know Willie Nelson wrote for other artists.

1. “Permanently Lonely,” Timi Yuro

Written by Willie Nelson

Rosemary Victoria Yuro (aka Timi Yuro) was known as the “little girl with the big voice” during her career, which began in the 1960s. Born in Chicago in 1940, Yuro passed away in 2004 in Las Vegas. In between, she released more than a dozen albums. She also cut a version of Nelson’s “Permanently Lonely” in 1963. Nelson later released a version of it on his 1982 album, Always on My Mind. In the song, Yuro sings,

Don’t be concerned it’s time I learned,
That those who play with fire get burned.
But I’ll be alright in a little while,
But you’ll be permanently lonely…

Don’t be too quick to pity me.
Don’t salve my heart with sympathy.
Cause I’ll be alright in a little while,
But you’ll be permanently lonely…

2. “Who Do I Know in Dallas,” Kenny Price

Written by Willie Nelson, Hank Cochran

This song was first released as a single in 1969 ahead of the 1970 Kenny Price album, Heavyweight. With the nickname the Round Mound of Sound, Price was known for songs like “Walking on New Grass” and “Happy Tracks,” which both hit No. 7 on the Hot Country chart. But it was his rendition of the Nelson song that helped his street cred. On the track, the American country singer offers,

Who do I know in Dallas?
Who can I call on the phone?
Who do I know in Dallas
Who’ll help me forget she’s gone?

I can’t spend the night without someone
The lonelies will drive me insane
So who do I know in Dallas
Who’ll make me be glad I cam?

3. “One Day at a Time,” Bobby Bare

Written by Willie Nelson

This song appeared on country singer Bobby Bare’s 1965 album, Constant Sorrow. Written by Nelson, the song was the final song on the A-side of Bare’s vinyl release. Nelson was one of several big-name songwriters on Bare’s LP, including Waylon Jennings. Bare also covered Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” on the album. For this song, “One Day at a Time,” Bare sings,

Guess that you’re surprised to see me back at home
You know how much I miss you when I’m gone
But don’t ask how long I planned to stay it never crossed my mind
I live one day at a time

I live one day at a time
I dream one dream at a time
Yesterday’s dead and tomorrow is blind
I just live one day at a time
I live one day at a time

4. “I’d Rather You Didn’t Love Me,” Billie Jean Horton

Written by Willie Nelson, Claude Gray, Walt Breeland

A former wife of Hank Williams and girlfriend of Johnny Cash, Billie Jean Horton was a popular country singer beginning in the early 1950s through the 1970s. She cut this song co-written by Nelson in 1962, the B-side on the single release of the A-side, “Tell Him I Can’t See Him Anymore.” On the piano-driven “I’d Rather You Didn’t Love Me,” Horton sings,

You told me
You’d love me forever
But the one in your arms
Is not me

So, if this is
What you refer to as love
Then I’d rather you
Didn’t love me

5. “Good Hearted Woman,” Waylon Jennings

Written by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings

Written by two of the biggest stars (and fathers) in country music history, this track was penned by pals Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. The inspiration for the song came when Jennings saw an ad in a newspaper talking about Tina Turner as a “good-hearted woman loving two-timing men.” So, Jennings began to think about the song and Nelson helped. According to the 1996 book, Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy., the two were involved in a poker game at the time and as they came up with the lyrics, Willie’s-then wife Connie Koepke jotted the loquacious lines down while the chips and bets raised. In the song, Jennings sings,

A long time forgotten are dreams that just fell by the way
And the good life he promised ain’t what she’s living today
But she never complains of the bad times or bad things he’s done, Lord
She just talks about the good times they’ve had and all the good times to come

She’s a good hearted woman in love with a good timin’ man
She loves him in spite of his ways that she don’t understand
Through teardrops and laughter they’ll pass through this world hand in hand
A good hearted woman lovin’ her good timin’ man

Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images

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