Monday, March 23, 2015

This Map Plots Out (Almost) Every Place Willie Nelson Namechecks In Song

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 2:49 PM

  • Mark Byrnes/CityLab

A new map from the folks at CityLab attempts to plot out every place Willie Nelson has namechecked in song, and it's sure to please cartography nuts and lovers of true Texas country alike.

The effort coincides with Nelson's new tour, which takes the Texas troubadour on the road (again). He has three sold-out shows with Merle Haggard at White Water Amphitheater in New Braunfels this week. 

According to the map's key, which is aptly titled "You Were Always On My Map," San Antonio is one of the most frequently mentioned cities in the Willie Nelson songbook, with four songs paying lip service to the Alamo City. We have a brief playlist for you below

So why did CityLab venture into music mapmaking? We'll let them explain. 

No one map could track all the sites and cities Willie sings about. He's recorded songs about rivers: the Rio Grande and the Pedernales, the Mississippi and the Ohio, the Rhine and the Jordan. He's played songs about trains: the Midnight Special, the Wabash Cannonball, the Golden Rocket, the City of New Orleans. (And, of course, a song about rainbows.) Georgia, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas all loom large over his songbook.

Cities serve as metaphors and signposts in Willie's songs—a role they tend to play in much of blues, country, and folk. Maybe it's because he's a master of those three styles that he's known for songs about cities and places. That interest unites all those different genres in his catalog. The experience of traveling cross-country, getting the hell out of some place or setting off for a new start, is an entire category of Willie Nelson songs, right up there with cowboy heartbreak and drinking whiskey.

Take a look at the map and the song guide over at

[H/T Texas Monthly]

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