"On the Road Again" is a song made famous by country music singer Willie Nelson, and is part of the soundtrack to the 1980 movie Honeysuckle Rose.

The song, about life on tour, came about when the executive producer of Honeysuckle Rose approached Nelson about writing the song.[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, becoming his biggest pop hit to that time. Nelson won Grammy Award for Best Country Song a year later.

Background and writing[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In 1980 Nelson starred on his first leading role on the film Honeysuckle Rose, about an aging musician who fails to achieve national fame, and the relation with his family, who also are part of his band that travels throughout the United States while playing in different venues.[2] Shortly after signing the contract, Nelson was approached during a flight by the executive producer of the movie, who requested him to write a song about life on the road to use as the theme song.[3][4] Nelson quickly wrote the song on a barf bag.[5] The tune featured a "train beat",[6] [7]

Release and reception[edit source | editbeta]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.[8] Nelson received a Grammy Award for Best Country Song, while he was nominated for Best Original Song during the 53rd Academy Awards.[9] In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 471 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[10] In 2011, "On The Road Again" was inducted to Grammy Hall of Fame.

Legacy[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The song has also featured in several other films and TV series including South ParkShrekForrest GumpThe Littlest HoboMonk, and Open Season 3, which features Nelson rehearsing the song with his band.

A live version of the song is featured in 2008 video game Guitar Hero: World Tour, while the studio version was released for Rock Band via the Rock Band Country Track Pack.

Parodies and covers[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Jerry Reed sang part of "On the Road Again" in his hit "The Bird": "The life I love is makin' money with my friend...".

The song was parodied by the comedy musical group Da Yoopers as "Road to Gwinn" (a reference to Gwinn, Michigan) on their 1986 album Yoopanese. On the 1983 CBS game show Press Your Luck, Whammy sings a parody of the song on a horse, singing "Got your bucks again. I can't wait to get your bucks again...". This Whammy animation was used during the final months of the show's run in 1986.

In 2006, the American punk band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes released a cover of this song on their album Love Their Country. In 2007, Deana Carter released a new version of the song featuring a duet with Willie Nelson in her album The Chain. It was released as single, but failed to land on the chart.

A Swedish version, with lyrics by Keith Almgren, called "Jag ser mig om" (Eng. "I look around") has been recorded by Anne Kihlström on the album Förgät mig ej in 1984, and also by Paula Jarl on a single and by Bennys on an album in 1987.

In 1981, Alvin and the Chipmunks covered this song as part of their Urban Chipmunk album. The song is sung by the Chipmunks as Dave is taking them on a road trip, but Alvin wants to go home and sings about what he misses about home, much to Dave's annoyance. Near the end of the instrumental bridge, Dave threatens to turn the car around back to school if he doesn't sing the right words, which Alvin does.

Buckcherry covered this song in late 2009.

Conan O'Brien performs the song as "My Own Show Again" during his 2010 Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour, changing the lyrics to reflect how he can't wait to return to hosting a television series after leaving The Tonight Show earlier in the year.[11]

Chart performance[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1980) Peak


Australian Kent Music Report[12] 64
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 2
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 3
Denmark Hit 100 77
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 20
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 7
U.S. Cashbox Top 100 22