Seven Spanish Angels

"Seven Spanish Angels" is a song written by Troy Seals and Eddie Setser, and recorded by Ray Charles as a duet with Willie Nelson. It was released in November 1984 as a single from Charles' 1984 album Friendship. Charles and Nelson split the verses, with Charles singing the first and Nelson the second, Charles sang the first and second choruses with Nelson joining for the outro. It was also included on Nelson's 1985 compilation album Half Nelson. "Seven Spanish Angels" was the most successful of Charles' eight hits on the country chart. The single spent one week at number one and a total of twelve weeks on the country chart.[1]

"Seven Spanish Angels"
Single by Ray Charles with Willie Nelson
from the album Friendship
B-side "Who Cares"
Released November 1984
Genre Country
Length 3:39
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Troy Seals
Eddie Setser
Producer(s) Billy Sherrill
Willie Nelson singles chronology
"City of New Orleans"
(1984)
"Seven Spanish Angels"
(1984)
"Forgiving You Was Easy"
(1985)

"City of New Orleans"
(1984)
"Seven Spanish Angels"
(1984)
"Forgiving You Was Easy"
(1985)

Setser had suggested the title "Seven Spanish Angels" and he and Seals had written the song as a homage to the tejano flavored classic hits of Marty Robbins exemplified by Robbins' career record "El Paso": (Troy Seals quote:) "When we finished it we thought 'Who in the world's gonna do it?' because Marty was [deceased]." Within two days "Seven Spanish Angels" had been successfully pitched to Willie Nelson. Before Nelson was able to record it, producer Billy Sherrill happened to hear the demo and wanted the song for Ray Charles. Sherrill proposed that Nelson and Charles duet on the song after learning of Nelson's having reserved it.[2]

Content

The song is about an outlaw and his lover who are trying to outrun a posse sent to return them to Texas. When they are cornered, they decide to fight the approaching lawmen. Before the final gunfight, the two embrace, speaking of their belief that God will spare them. The gunfight then commences, with the outlaw firing upon the posse. He is immediately shot and killed, prompting his distraught lover to pick up his rifle. She tearfully prays, "Father, please forgive me; I can't make it without my man." She deliberately points the empty weapon at the lawmen and is then shot dead. After each death, the titular angels gather to pray for the lovers. This is followed by "thunder from the throne" and the angels "tak[ing] another angel home". [3] Seals stated that "We tried to make [the story] ethereal but also believable". As written the song included the lines: "Now the people in the valley swear/ That when the moon's just right/ They see the Texan and his woman/ Ride across the clouds at night", which Sherrill preferred not to record feeling the track would run too long.[2]

Chart performance

Chart (1984–1985) Peak
position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 6
Australian Kent Music Report 29

Cover versions

  • Canadian rocker Bryan Adams covered the song with acoustic guitar and Gary Breit on the piano, during a gig in Gainesville, Florida on January 9, 2009.
  • Canadian country music artist George Canyon covered the song on his 2007 album, Classics.
  • Both Norwegian-born Country music artist, Heidi Hauge, and Dutch-born Peter Naude have covered the song; the latter turning it in to a more modern pop version.
  • Mati Nuude recorded an Estonian version.
  • Czech country group Greenhorns covered the song as Sedm španělských andělů (Seven Spanish Angels), with lyrics faithful to the spirit of the original.
  • Czech country singer Pavel Bobek covered the song as Muž na konci světa (Man at the end of the world) in 2002, with completely different lyrics in Czech.
  • Croatian singer Mišo Kovač covered the song as Ti si pjesma moje duše (You Are the Song of My Soul) in 1986., with altered lyrics in Croatian, and it became a big hit in Yugoslavia, reaching #2 on the charts there.
  • Mid-west country singer Smokey Smith covered the song on his album "Songs of Life 2".
  • Adam Harvey (Australian Country Singer) covers on his 2014 country classic songbook album with Troy Cassar-Daley
  • Jamaican dancehall artist Beenie Man covered the song on his 1994 album Dis Unu Fi Hear.
  • Kari Tapio recorded a Finnish language version, Enkeleitä seitsemän (Seven angels).
  • Stoney LaRue covered the song as a duet with Cody Canada on his 2015 album Us Time.
  • The Jamaican reggae artist Garnett Silk covered the song to his album Nothing Can Divide Us.
  • The Howling Tongues covered the song on their album A Collection of Covers.
  • Alf Robertsson (Swedish country singer) recorded a Swedish version, Sju små vita änglar.
  • Chris Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam performed this song live at the 2016 CMA Awards.
  • Country/Texmex artist Stephanie Urbina Jones recorded a Texmex version for her 2018 album "Tularosa"

References

  1. Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 78.
  2. The Tennessean from Nashville Tennessee February 24 1985 "Seven Spanish Angels Take Lovers to Their Home Above" p. 171
  3. https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tyzzfuoxv4gfeltsazu4qiojhlq?lyrics=1&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics
  4. "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
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