For years, Willie Nelson has embodied the image of the country music outlaw. With his long braids and scruffy beard, many people can’t even begin to imagine Nelson looking any different.
But when Nelson first got his start in the music industry he didn’t look anything like he does today. With short, perfectly groomed hair and a clean-shaven look, the younger Nelson looks unrecognizable in comparison to his older self!
If you’ve never seen a video of a young Nelson performing, then you’re in luck. Nelson was a regular performer on the Ernest Tubb Show, and a clip from one of his performances has resurfaced online.
During this particular appearance on The Ernest Tubb Show, Nelson decided to perform a cover of an iconic country hit. Titled “Making Believe,” the song was written and released in 1955 by Jimmy Work. Kitty Wells released her version that same year, which went on to claim the second spot on the charts.
Over the years, other artists such as Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton have all offered their takes on the song. Perhaps the most unique version was recorded by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, who were the first ones to turn it into a duet.
The song is told from the perspective of someone longing for the person they once loved. Now that they are no longer together, the narrator sings, “Making believe that you still love me. It’s leaving me alone and so blue.”
Nelson was another one of the many artists who recorded “Making Believe.” His version appeared on his fourth studio album, Country Favorites-Willie Nelson Style. The album contained Nelson’s covers of other country classics, such as “San Antonio Rose” and “Heartaches by the Number.”
Country Favorites was recorded along with Tubb’s band, the Texas Troubadours. So it only made sense for Nelson to perform one of the songs off of the album when he appeared on Tubb’s show. “Making Believe” was the perfect choice!
Although Nelson looked different then, there was no mistaking his voice. As we’ve learned over the years, Nelson is a master at channeling emotion into his performance. He clearly had that skill from young age. As he sang “Making Believe,” the heartache behind the lyrics came through clear as day in his voice.
Tune in below to watch Nelson’s captivating performance of “Making Believe.” It’s obvious that Nelson was a star from the start!