Thursday, August 8, 2013

Unusual Collaborations: Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson

Julio Igelsias and Willie Nelson: To All the Girls I've Loved Before


I had a really difficult time trying to think of a song for this theme. In the past few years unusual collaborations have essentially become the norm, especially in pop music. Nelly and Tim McGraw? Jack White and Alicia Keys? Jason Aldean and Ludacris? Metallica and Lou Reed? LL Cool J and Brad Paisley? Shudder. While many of these modern collaborations obviously occurred in a Nashville board room rather than happening organically, and some that did form naturally were horrible ideas, many of these collaborations ended up becoming huge hits for both artists, crossing over genres, and exposing fans to new types of music.

To a child of the 80s like myself, the most obvious unusual collaboration, and the first one I remember hearing on the radio, has to be the collaboration of Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson on the mega-hit "To All the Girls I've Loved Before." This song was originally written in 1975 by Albert Hammond and Hal David. Iglesias and Nelson recorded it in 1983 for Iglesias's album 1100 Bel Air Place (though it can also be found on a number of Nelson compilations). I can't find any information on how this collaboration came to be, but I like to imagine that Iglesias and Nelson crossed paths while touring through Europe, winding up at some London pub downing pints of ale (maybe at the Hard Rock Cafe where Nelson got his shirt in the above photo), and ending the night with drunken, "I love you man" hugs, and promising to do a song together.

"To All the Girls I've Loved Before" became an enormous hit for both Iglesias and Nelson. It was a breakthrough song for Iglesias in the English language market, and was Nelson's biggest European hit. The song went to #1 on the US country charts, #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was named single of the year by the Academy of Country Music. 1100 Bel Air Place sold 4 million copies in the US, and 8 million world wide.

This song is not the only unusual collaboration on 1100 Bel Air Place. On this album Iglesias also has a duet with Diana Ross on the opening track "All of You," the Beach Boys provide vocals for "The Air the I Breathe," and Richard Marx, who had a huge amount of solo success in the late 80s and early 90s, is listed as a backing singer on the album. As mentioned earlier in the week by Retropath, Nelson himself has had a number of unusual collaborations over the years, including Sinead O'Connor, Carlos Santana, Phish, and most recently Snoop Dogg.

So what about all of the girls that Iglesias and Nelson have loved before? Between the two of them, they have four ex-wives and 15 children. Iglesias married Miranda Rijnsburger in 2010, his girlfriend of 20 years and mother of five of his children. Nelson married Annie D'Angelo in 1991. They have two sons, one of whom (Lukas) has recorded with and is currently touring with his father.

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