On the Road Again (Willie Nelson song)

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"On the Road Again"
Single by Willie Nelson
from the album Honeysuckle Rose
B-side"Jumpin' Cotton Eyed Joe" (Johnny Gimble)
ReleasedAugust 1980
RecordedFall 1979
StudioEnactron Truck, Hollywood, California
GenreCountry rock
Songwriter(s)Willie Nelson
Producer(s)Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson singles chronology
"Midnight Rider"
"On the Road Again"
"Family Bible"
Music video
"On the Road Again" (audio) on YouTube

"On the Road Again" is a song written and recorded by American country music singer Willie Nelson.

The song, about life on tour, came about when the executive producer of the film Honeysuckle Rose approached Nelson about writing the song for the film's soundtrack.[1] "On the Road Again" became Nelson's 9th Country & Western No. 1 hit overall (6th as a solo recording act) in November 1980, and became one of Nelson's most recognizable tunes. In addition, the song reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 7 on the Adult Contemporary chart.[2] It was his biggest pop hit to that time and won him a Grammy Award for Best Country Song a year later.

Background and writing[edit]

In 1980 Nelson starred in his first leading role in the Jerry Schatzberg film Honeysuckle Rose, about an aging musician who fails to achieve national fame and his relationship with his family, who also are part of his band that travels throughout the United States while playing in different venues.[3] Shortly after signing the contract, Nelson was approached during a flight by Schatzberg and the executive producer of the movie, who requested him to write a song about life on the road to use as the theme song.[4][5] Nelson quickly wrote the song on a barf bag.[6] The tune featured a "train beat".[7][8]

Release and reception[edit]

The song was released with Nelson's 1980 album Honeysuckle Rose, reaching the first position on Billboard's top country albums, while it ranked twenty on the Billboard Hot 100.[9] Nelson received a Grammy Award for Best Country Song, while he was nominated for Best Original Song during the 53rd Academy Awards.[10] In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 471 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[11] In 2011, "On the Road Again" was inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame.



Chart (1980) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[15] 64
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 2
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 3
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 20
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[17] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[18] 7
US Cashbox Top 100 22

See also[edit]

  • Whitburn, Joel, Top Country Songs: 1944–2005, 2006.
  • Whitburn, Joel, Top Pop Singles: 1955–2006, 2007.


  1. ^ "On the Road Again", from "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", Rolling Stone, November 2004.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 178.
  3. ^ Deming 2012.
  4. ^ Corcoran 2005, p. 80.
  5. ^ Rolling Stone staff 2004.
  6. ^ Cartwright 2000, p. 276.
  7. ^ Berry & Gianni 2004, p. 63.
  8. ^ Thomas 1995, p. 9.
  9. ^ Jurek 2012.
  10. ^ Hilburn 1986, p. 14.
  11. ^ Rolling Stone staff (2) 2004.
  12. ^ Scott Sepich (April 13, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Revives Edgy 'Late Night' Vibe at First Live Show". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  13. ^ Finan, Eileen (September 16, 2016). "The Story Behind Country Music's Epic Mash-Up! Plus: Hear Blake, Carrie, Miranda and 36 Other Stars Sing 'Forever Country'". People. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  14. ^ "First Aid Kit Share Cover of Willie Nelson's 'On the Road Again'". Spin. August 14, 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.


  • Berry, Mick; Gianni, Jason (2004). The Drummer's Bible. Tucson, Arizona: See Sharp Press. ISBN 1-884365-32-9.
  • Cartwright, Gary (2000). Turn Out the Lights: Chronicles of Texas in the 80's and 90's. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292711990.
  • Corcoran, Michael Joseph (2005). All Over The Map: True Heroes Of Texas Music. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292782495.
  • Deming, Mark (2012). "Honeysuckle Rose (1980)". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation, Inc. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  • Hilburn, Robert (1986). "The Landmark Career of the Red-Headed Stranger". Billboard. Vol. 98, no. 41. ISSN 0006-2510.
  • Jurek, Thom (2012). "Honeysuckle Rose". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  • Rolling Stone staff (2004). "On the Road Again". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 1, 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  • Rolling Stone staff (2) (2004). "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on January 10, 2007. Retrieved March 26, 2013.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  • Thomas, Willie (1995). Jazz Anyone.....? MAKING Music A Simple Language systems for Jazz. Vol. 3. Alfred Music Publishing. ISBN 9780769230160.