Blackjack County Chain

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"Blackjack County Chain"
Willie Nelson - Blackjack County Chain.jpg
Single by Willie Nelson
B-side "Some Other World"
Released May 1967
Format 7" single (RCA-479202)
Recorded 1967 at RCA Studio B (Nashville, Tennessee)
Genre Country
Length 2:00
Label RCA Victor
Songwriter(s) Red Lane
Producer(s) Chet Atkins
Willie Nelson singles chronology
"The Party's Over"
"Blackjack County Chain"
"San Antonio"

"The Party's Over"
"'Blackjack County Chain"
"San Antonio"

"Blackjack County Chain" is a song written by Red Lane. The song was initially rejected by Charley Pride, who considered at the time the lyrics controversial.

The song was ultimately recorded by Willie Nelson, whose version enjoyed success until it was banned by radio stations.


"Blackjack County Chain" was written by country music artist Red Lane,. The song depicts the killing of a Georgia sheriff by members of a black chaingang, as recounted by one of them. Lane offered initially the song to Charley Pride, who anticipating a possible controversy refrained from recording it.[1]

Lane then offered the song to his friend Willie Nelson. Nelson had recently a hit single with "The Party's Over", that peaked at twenty-four in Billboard's Hot Country Singles. Nelson's version of "Blackjack County Chain" was released with a cover of Floyd Tillman's "Some Other World" on the flipside.[2] The single debuted in May 1967. RCA Records published a full-page advertising promoting the single on Billboard.[3] On its review, the publication praised the work of producer Chet Atkins, while it declared "(Nelson's) moving rendition [...] should be working its way up to the top".[4]

The song met instant success, reaching number twenty-four on the country singles chart. At the time the song's popularity was growing, most of the radio stations banned it from airplay due to its content.[2] Nelson re-recorded the song as a duet with Waylon Jennings for their 1983 collaboration Take it to the Limit.[5]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1967) Peak
Billboard Hot Country Singles 21



  • Alamo Promotions (1967). "Chain Breaking". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  • Billboard staff (1967). "Country Spotlight". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  • Patoski, Joe Nick (2008). Willie Nelson: An Epic Life. Hachette Digital. ISBN 978-0-316-01778-7.
  • Pride, Charlie; Henderson, Jim (1994). Pride: the Charley Pride story. W. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-12638-4.