Walk with me for just a minute. The other day I heard Willie Nelson and Family were playing a show at the famed Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. It was too late for tickets as the show was sold out, like almost all are these days.
I read one time that when Willie started playing with Ray Price in the mid 60’s, that the first run was a string of 99 one nighters. Can you imagine? Nobody does that anymore. Before all of that, Willie had been in constant motion. Born in Texas but living many places while searching for his dreams to materialize. Landing in Nashville in the 60’s and becoming a pretty powerful songwriter, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and “Funny How Time Slips Away”, just to name a couple. It wasn’t until his house burned down that he went back to Texas. He just wanted to play music and the crowds there were and are more open to music that doesn’t fit in the box. Thank God for that.
So anyway, back to the road. Willie is 76 and still on the road over 200 days a year ! When you look at the itinerary , there are still a lot of one nighters. It amazes me the energy it must take. It became a way of life long ago for him as well as his traveling family. I think he just loves to play and works off of the energy of the crowds. The idea of Willie conjures many impressions from people. His voice is an acquired thing and if you are looking for the perfect voice it’s not for you. But if you are looking for a storyteller, a voice that has heart and is totally unique, then give him a chance. In the current state of Country Music, and entertainment in general where you can’t tell one artist from another, his striking individuality is always refreshing. Some people look down on him due to his open use of weed. They say weed lessens someone’s drive, not Willie’s !
This writer has been enjoying Willie’s music since about 1978. It took me a little while, but I did get it and his voice now to me is like an old friend. It’s warm and reassuring. I like Emmylou Harris’ comment “That if America only had one voice it would be Willie’s”. I think he is more comfortable in his skin than most any other entertainer. Beyond a star, superstar, Willie is an honest American icon. His picking ain’t perfect, his look is worn, and his heart has suffered. Kind of like life itself, right ?
You don’t have to go out and buy his records or go to his shows, but a little light on someone who is marching to the drum God gave him, might allow your heart to just say “Ole Willie’s alright with me”. So I wish him well out there on the Worlds highways and biways, bringing his music, his heart and his love. Always giving ! Thanks Willie