He had a lot of hits like this one.
But my favorite song of his was his last big hit, in 1972:
The acoustics on this are terrible, and this was recorded in 1985, thirteen years after the hit came out, but you can still hear the feeling in his voice. This is one of the few songs that really reached out to me as a teenager and as I got older I adopted more and more of the “If you can’t please everyone, you got to please yourself” philosophy. My understanding is that this song was the result of Ricky Nelson appearing at a star-studded concert at Madison Square Garden, a concert that included John Lennon (the Walrus), George Harrison (who was working on an album covering Dylan’s songs), Chuck Berry and a slew of others. Ricky sang some of his big 60s teen idol hits like “Mary Lou” and “Travelin’ Man” but then he turned to songs he was working on that were a fusion of country and rock, as he started his first of those songs, the fans began booing and he left the stage. That experience led to this song. Some who were there say that Ricky misunderstood the booing which was targeted at police who were pushing fans back from the stage, but whatever the reason, it left a mark on Ricky’s psyche.
There aren’t a lot of songs that I just want to sit back, close my eyes and listen to, but both of these Ricky Nelson songs fit that category. Ricky Nelson was a major talent, with a beautiful voice, but like many, if not most, teenage idols, he never managed to escape his past.