The Essential Highwaymen

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Between 1985 and 1995, The Highwaymen recorded three albums. But in the years before, between and after them, there was no shortage of activity between its four members—Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. The double-disc set The Essential Highwaymen collects important solo and duet recordings that belong under the Highwaymen banner, demonstrating the links between the careers of these four legends as well as their common taste in well-crafted songs that are by turns deep, poignant, joyous and wryly humorous.

The 36-track collection is artfully compiled, pulling together nearly 40 years’ worth of recordings (including many unavailable tracks) to construct a rich and rugged tapestry that outlines “Outlaw” music’s origins and architects. Tracks are frequently arranged by theme, highlighting the rough-riding cowboys-and-desperados undercurrent in the four’s music while allowing space for good-timing and God-fearing variations, revealing the surprising breadth of their work. The two songs about immortality (“Highwayman,” “Live Forever”) that bookend the collection provide an especially fitting framework, as this music was indeed built to last.

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