Willie Nelson wrote "Sad Songs and Waltzes" for his 1973 Shotgun Willie album, but Cody Johnson's cover will have you talking about the song's relevancy today. The 2019 Taste of Country RISER picked this song to share with fans. It's a reminder that some things never change.

Johnson recalled seeing a vintage performance of Nelson singing the song on a late-night television show one sleepless night on the road. "He told a story about how he went and played all his best songs to the record man," the "On My Way to You" singer recalls. "The record man said, 'That's great, Tex, but sad songs and waltzes ain't selling this year.'"

That story, and this song, fueled Johnson's fire. Nelson remained true to who he was, despite being kicked out of Nashville, more or less. Staying true to his roots is essential to this young Texan, as well, and he proves it by sticking to simple country sounds and values on Ain't Nothin' To It, his most recent album.

"I think it still has relevance 40-something years later, because it spoke about a time in country music when there was a serious change," Johnson says of "Sad Songs and Waltzes." "When Willie Nelson wasn't country. That's huge."

Cody Johnson's "On My Way to You" Is an Original Gem

Are we experiencing something similar today? Johnson believes we are — he goes as far as to predict a change in the next few years that finds the pendulum swinging back to a more traditional sound.

"People are leaning more traditional, and that's why that door is getting opened for guys like me and guys like Luke Combs who were independent and never really thought you had a shot at being accepted in this town," he says.

In addition to an original performance of "On My Way to You" and "Sad Songs and Waltzes," Johnson also covered Brooks & Dunn's "Husbands and Wives" during his Taste of Country RISERS video shoot. He is the first RISER chosen for the class of 2019. The next artist will be announced in April.

Watch Cody Johnson Pour His Heart Into a Brooks & Dunn Classic

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