This performance is good enough to be considered a monumental monument to a great performance. Its a great song and a great version. Willie plays so well and is a fabulous writer too. Shania has a great voice and the pairing works so well. Getting proper country music to a wider audience is only a good thing and performancs like this are key to the battle against over-polished pop songs that sometimes gets billed as country music.
The facts that Willie’s voice is almost gone, his guitar playing is so emotional, and Shania’s voice is so spot-on, raises this performance to legendary status in my opinion.
In 2003, American icon Willie Nelson was the centerpiece of an all-star 70th birthday tribute with performances from Kenny Chesney, Shelby Lynne, Steven Tyler, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Leon Russell, Paul Simon, Wyclef Jean and more.
Captured for a CD/DVD set called Live & Kickin’: Willie Nelson and Friends, the event was taped at New York’s Beacon Theatre and features some of Nelson’s most legendary compositions, including «Crazy» and «Night Life,» along with songs by other writers.
One tune heard during the USA Network special, falling into the latter category, was «Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,» a song penned by songwriter-publisher Fred Rose in the Forties and previously performed by Hank Williams and Roy Acuff. Three decades later, the mournful ballad would become a signature tune for Nelson when he recorded it for his 1975 concept LP, Red Headed Stranger.
Introduced by Nelson’s longtime friend (and fellow songwriting legend) Kris Kristofferson, one of the most affecting performances of the special was country-pop superstar Shania Twain’s rendition of «Blue Eyes,» which the casually attired Canadian – in jeans, a cap and Willie T-shirt – performed while seated next to Nelson, who was standing and playing Trigger, his trusty vintage guitar.