Willie Nelson Covers Johnny Paycheck’s “Only Hell” for Mother’s Day

Willie Nelson’s latest album First Rose of Spring has been postponed until July 3rd due to Coronavirus concerns (it was supposed to be released April 24th), but he’s celebrating Mother’s Day by releasing his cover of Johnny Paycheck’s infamous song “I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised.” Not exactly a sweet song for that special matriarch in your family, it nonetheless conveys an appreciation for mothers and all they have to put up with from rowdy sons in a similar way to Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.”

Written by Wayne Kemp, Bobby Borchers, and Mack Vickery, the song became a Top 10 hit for Paycheck in 1977 and appeared on his album Slide Off Your Satin Sheets. It was Paycheck’s precursor on the radio to his signature hit, “Take This Job and Shove It.”

Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck do have a history together. They both served Ray Price in his backing band The Cherokee Cowboys early in their careers, and they both worked as songwriters before hitting it big as performers. They also both became synonymous with the Outlaw style of country as their careers unfolded. Willie and Paycheck sang “Take This Job and Shove It” together for Willie Nelson’s album Willie & Family Live in 1978.

As for Willie, he never knew his own mother very well. Growing up in Abbott, TX, his parents separated soon after he was born and his mother left the family. His father remarried and moved away as well, which left Willie and his sister Bobby to be raised by their grandparents. They were the first to instill a strong musical background in the two future country stars.

First Rose of Spring will be Willie Nelson’s 70th studio record, and will also include covers of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Where Are All The Cowboys,” Chris Stapleton’s “Our Song,” and Toby Keith’s “Don’t Let The Old Man In.”

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