Willie Nelson Wrote a Song That Became a Country/Gospel Classic, but He Sold It for $50
'Family Bible' is a country and gospel music classic. It was written by the legendary Willie Nelson and became a country music smash in 1960. So why does the 45 RPM single list 'Breeland-Gray-Buskirk' as the writers?
Because Willie needed to eat.
While today we think of Willie Nelson as an American music icon, in 1957 he was far from that. He was a struggling songwriter, working as a radio DJ and, well, writing songs. With a young family to support and not a lot of money in the near future, Willie sold the rights to Paul Buskirk for $50.00. (Now hold on, we're sitting here and know that 'Family Bible' is a country/gospel classic, a worldwide hit loved by millions. They of course didn't know that then!)
Buskirk convinced country singer Claude Gray to record the song (and in fact sold Gray part of the rights to the song for $100.00) and the song you can listen to below became a huge hit.
For his part, Willie reportedly has said 'I felt if I could write one hit song, I could write another', and has had no regrets about selling the song. Willie, of course, is one of the great songwriters of the past 60 years and has written songs that have gone beyond classics to become country music standards, songs like 'Night Life', 'Hello Walls' and a song many consider his finest, Patsy Cline's 'Crazy'.
And now, give a listen to Willie singing the, uh, 'Breeland-Gray-Buskirk' classic 'Family Bible'.