Archive for 2008

2008 Was a Fantastic Year to be a Willie Nelson Fan

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Farm Aid, 2009, Mansfield, Mass.

My sister sends out long, newsy Christmas letters every year. I tried it once but didn’t need that much room, so I sent postcards: “My cat died. I got a new cat”. I think it just confused and depressed people who got them, so that ended that. But can you imagine the holiday letter Willie Nelson could write?

So, get a cup of coffee, or whatever you’re drinking, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em, and read some of how Willie Nelson spent 2008. This is an incomplete accounting, of course, and as always, all errors and omissions are mine, and mine alone.

Thanks to everyone who visits the blog, your kind words and sharing the way you do — Willie Nelson fans are so generous. And Happy New Year! I hope to see you at a Willie Nelson concert soon.

And thanks so much to Willie Nelson, for who he is, and all he does. And to Willie Nelson & Family, for all their great shows and music this year.

Love, Linda

Willie Nelson and Family toured the United States extensively and also played shows in Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland, and France. He played rodeos, casinos, giant festivals, small honky-tonks, state fairs, giant amphitheaters, and the final concert at the BackYard in Austin, and the 2008 Tyson Food Employee Picnic, a private party at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Fundraisers and with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the SuperBowl TailGate Party.Over the year, he was joined on tour or on stage with Billy Bob Thornton, Wynton Marsalis, Norah Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Sarah Evans, Flaco Jimenez, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kenny Chesney, B. B. King, Kirt Nilson, Snoop Dogg and President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, and many others.
Willie brought his travelling picnic back to Texas this year, and started the celebration with a Free Concert at Willie’s Theater, at Carl’s Corner, with concert goers asked to make a donation to the Freddy Powers Parkinson Foundation. Then he moved his annual Fourth of July Picnic to Selma, Texas, and finished up with a Fifth of July Concert in Houston. Dozens of artists and groups joined Willie Nelson and Family for his shows, and it was like a traveling Picnic.
Willie released ‘One Hell of a Ride, a 4-CD Boxed Set, with over 100 songs recorded by Willie Nelson over the past 50 years, from 1954/55 to 2007

“Moment of Forever” produced by Kenney Chesney and Buddy

Two Men With the Blues,’ recorded from concerts by Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and his band, and, and Mickey Raphael in New York City in 2007.

“Stardust” 30th Anniversary
‘Red Headed Stranger’ re-released on vinyl
Willie Nelson and Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel recorded traditional western swing songs made famous by Bob Wills and other, with a release date of ‘Willie and the Wheel’ set for Spring of 2009, and a tour to follow.
Willie collaborated on recordings with Mariah carey, who invited Willie to write a song for her new movie, ‘Tennessee,’ and he plays guitar on the song, “Right to Dream,’ on the soundtrack; he sings with Kenney Chesney on title song to Kenney’s album, ‘Lucky Ole Sun,’ joins Ray Price on singing with Johnny Bush on his soon-to-be-released, “Young at Heart,’ album; records with Melonie Cannon, sings ‘What a Difference a Day Makes’ on the Don Imus Ranch Record, to benefit camp for children with cancer; has a song on soundtrack of the movie, “W”, records with Dave Mason on his new album, has a song on the Guitar Hero game soundtrack, and on ‘Boots, Buckles & Sprus, tribute to National Finals Rodeo’s 50th year; on King of Hill cd, with the reunited Pretenders on their new cd ‘Break Up the Concrete’ and many more.  

Willie Nelson starred in the movie Surfer Dude, with Matthew McConaughey, and Woody Harrelson.

Willie Nelson appeared in the
Kevin Costner, Movie Swing Vote .
Willie appeared in ‘Beer for My Horses,’ movie with Toby Keith, Rodney Carrington, based on song written by Toby Keith and recorded by Willie and Toby. Fighting With Anger released
Willie appeared on television on the Ellen deGenerous Show, Today Show, Tonight Show, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert Willie continued to call in to the Bill Mack Open Road xm satellite show on Wednesdays, whenever he could, and lends his name to Willie’s Place, on xm Radio
Willie joined Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, Toby Keith, Feist, Elvis Costello on Comedy Central’s, ‘A Colbert Christmas’.
 Willie Nelson taped a promo for Snoop Dogg’s reality television show, ‘Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood’.  When Willie was in Amsterdam last April, Snoop Dogg came on stage at the Willie Nelson and Family Concert, and the next night, Willie went on stage at Snoop Dogg’s show and performed.  Fans went crazy at both shows, of course.  While there, Willie taped a music video with Snoop for his song, ‘My Medicine.” 
Texas Author Joe Nick Patoski took his admiration and knowledge of Willie Nelson and wrote a 500 page biography about him in 2008.

Willie collaborated With Mike Blakely on the Western novel, ‘A Tale Out Of Luck’

Author Robert K. Oermann included a chapter about Willie in his book, “Behind the Grand Ole Opry Curtain
Willie contributed an essay to Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book, ‘One Can Make a Difference,’ along with essays written by The Dalai Lama, Sir Paul McCartney, Dennis Kucinich, and 46 others. Willie joined George Jones, Charlie Daniels, Lynn Anderson and other artists, and contributed stories and pictures about horses, for Lisa Wysocky’s book ‘Horse Country:  A Celebration of Country Music and and the Love of Horses.’
Willie Nelson and Ray Price, receive an grammy for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
Willie was inducted into the Texas Musician’s Hall of Fame in Clifton Texas. Also inducted: Steve Fromholz, Hank Thompson, Janis Joplin, and others
The November Rolling Stone named Willie Nelson as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of all times 
Texas Monthly’s May 2008 issue with Willie Nelson on the cover was winner of Best Celebrity Cover in best-covers contest organized by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Willie Nelson was featured on the cover of many magazines, and many articles and interviews were published about him, including Hightimes; Texas Music Magazine, Texas Coop Power, Cowboys and Indians, Envy, Texas Monthly, and many more.
Willie continued in his leadership roll with Farm Aid, personally delivering checks to farmers effected by natural disasters, and headlining the annual Farm Aid Concert, (now in it’s 23rd year of supporting and raising funds for farmers) held for the first time in the Northeast, in Mansfield, Mass.
Willie Nelson and Family performed at a fundraising reception and concert at Leipers Farm, Tennessee, to benefit the Spears Foundationfor Hepatitis C. Awareness.
Willie performed at the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Fundraiser, Austin.                     
Willie continued his support for Habitat for Horses, and rescued many which he freed on his Austin ranch. Also, he joined friend and country singer Lacy Dalton, in a fight to preserve wild herds roaming in Nevada.Willie Nelson and Family performed a fundraising concert in Red Lodge, Montana, to benefit PLUK – Parents Let’s Unite for Kids.Willie Nelson and Family sold-out show at the Norva, in Norfolk, Virginia, was broadcast live to military units in Iraq and Afghanistan.Willie Nelson and Family performed at a fundraising concert at Carl’s Corner, to benefit the Freddy Powers Parkinson’s Foundation. 13 Scholarships were given out by the Abbott Methodist Church, which were partially funded by proceeds from sale of dvd of Willie and Bobbie Nelson’s service at Church recorded in 2006. In 2008, silver coins of Bobbie and Willie was minted, with proceeds going to fund more scholarships for local students. Willie donated a decorated wooden paper doll to benefit Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee.Willie signed many guitars to be sold at auctions to raise funds, including one signed for one of Kinky Friedman’s favorite causes, Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, which finds homes for abandoned or abused animals, and one signed by Willie Nelson and Charlie Daniels, to be sold to benefit Veterans.  
Willie joined with Wataire International and launched Willie Nelson’s Water From Air, distribute machines that produce pure drinking water from the air
Willie Nelson turned 75 this year, and he celebrated on the road, in Europe, where he was on tour.  While fans would have loved a giant birthday party to which we were all invited, his being away didn’t dampen the celebrations.   Fans celebrated for weeks, or in the case of the Austin Chronicle, for a month. News paper articles, magazine covers, books, fundraising concerts were held, to raise money for good causes, in his honor.  Fans in Brooklyn had a birthday barbeque, and Beanie had her annual office Willie Nelson birthday party in Minnesota.  There was a concert in Austin, which brought daughter Paula, Joe Ely, Patty Griffin, Bob Schneider, Alejandro Escovedo, Ray Benson, Ruthie Foster, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Fastball, Jimmy LaFave, and more to sing and celebrate.  Legacy Records produced 15 podcasts as a tribute to Willie, that you could download for free. 
Willie Nelson was not an official candidate for President, however there were many who still think he’s a better choice.  A Website launched promoting his campaign, or at least trying to sell Willie Nelson for President tee-shirts, and I read that he did get several write-in votes across the country.   Willie sent a letter to President-Elect Obama, on behalf of Farm Aid and in support for farmers. 

Willie Nelson’s Itinerary

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
Thanks to
January 9, 2009

Peppermill Wendover Casino

Wendover, NV
January 10, 2009

Peppermill Casino

Reno, NV
January 11, 2009

Jackson Hall

Davis, CA
January 13, 2009

Wells Fargo Center of the Arts

Santa Rosa, CA
January 14, 2009

Laxson Auditorium

Chico, CA
January 16-20, 2009

The Fillmore

San Francisco, CA
January 22, 2009

Canyon Club

Agoura Hills, CA
January 23, 2009

Morongo Events Center

Cabazon, CA
January 24, 2009

Star of the Desert Arena

Primm, NV
January 25, 2009

The Dodge Theater

Phoenix, AZ
February 9, 10, 2009

Lincoln Center, with Wynton Marsalis

February 11, 2009

 County Basie Theatre, with Asleep at the Wheel

Red Bank, NJ
February 12, 2009

 Kirby Center Performing Arts, with Asleep at the Wheel

Wilkes-Barre, PA
February 13, 2009

 American Music Theatre, with Asleep at the Wheel

Lancaster, PA
February 14, 2009

 Stanley Theatre, with Asleep at the Wheel

Utica, NY
February 15, 2009

 Palace Theater -NY, with Asleep at the Wheel

Albany, NY
February 17, 2009

 Roanoke Civic Center, with Asleep at the Wheel

Roanoke, VA
February 18, 2009

 Bob Martin Agricultural Cntr, with Asleep at the Wheel

Williamston, NC
February 19, 2009

 Holmes Convocation Center

Boone, NC
February 20, 2009

 Durham Performing Arts Center, with Asleep at the Wheel

Durham, NC
February 21, 2009

 War Memorial Auditorium, with Asleep at the Wheel

Greensboro, NC
March 11, 2009 

 Lakeland Cntr. Youkey Theatre

Lakeland, FL
March 12, 2009

 Hard Rock Cafe

Hollywood, FL
March 13, 2009

 House of Blues

Lake Buena Vista,  FL
March 14, 2009

 St. Augustine Amphitheater

St. Augustine, FL
March 15, 2009

 House of Blues

Myrtle Beach, FL
March 17, 2009

 Ruth Eckerd Hall

Clear Water, FL
March 18, 2009

 King Center

Melbourne, FL
March 19, 2009

 Marina Civic Center

Panama City, FL
March 20, 2009

 Silver Star Convention Center

Choctaw, MS
March 21, 2008

 Paragon Casino

Marksville, LA

 *** all dates subject to change

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Billboard Magazine: We Salute Willie Nelson and Family

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008



Congratulations, Woody Harrelson and Laura Louie

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Woody Harrelson and Laura Louie — who have been together more than 20 years and have three daughters — were married on Sunday in Maui.  Alanis Morissette sang at the wedding, which was a private affair near their home in Kipahulu. Owen Wilson, Willie Nelson and Sean Penn were among the friends who attended.

Woody and Laura have been together since they met and fell in love on the set of “Cheers.”

Willie Nelson

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Thanks to Carol from NY, for this picture she took at Deansboro.

Change? We’ll See

Monday, December 29th, 2008
By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, the official website of President-Elect Obama, has reopened its online polling page, “Open for Questions.” Of course we all know what happened the last time the incoming administration asked the public to decide what issue should be America’s top priority. And we’re all well aware of Obama’s less than favorable reply.

That said, the fact that the legalization of marijuana finished first out of over 7,000 questions polled generated significant media coverage, including features by Fox News (watch the video here), Esquire, and The Hill.  So let’s keep the media and the soon-to-be President’s feet to the fire and continue to push the debate.

Currently, over 25,000 public policy questions have been submitted to Obama’s website. Dozens of these questions pertain to cannabis law reform. Right now, the leading vote-getter among these (with 1,700+ votes) is:

“Why do you believe that marijuana should not be legalized? How is the prohibition of marijuana any different than the prohibition of alcohol? 100,000 Americans die every year due to alcohol but none to marijuana.”

Please take a moment and log onto the site to voice your support for this question, and others pertaining to the need to end America’s antiquated and punitive prohibition of marijuana. The people spoke once before; it’s time we make our voices heard again!

“Change we can believe in?” We shall see.


Willie Nelson, at Billy Bob’s

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Paula Nelson, on Tour

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Dec 31 2008 8:00P
Saxon Pub Austin, Texas
Jan 2 2009 9:30P
Motherlode Saloon Red River, New Mexico
Jan 4 2009 7:00P
Blondie’s Pub & Grub Cortez, Colorado
Jan 5 2009 8:00P
MusicFest Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 6 2009 8:00P
MusicFest Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 7 2009 9:00P
MusicFest – Grand Ballroom w/Jason Boland Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 8 2009 8:00P
MusicFest Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 9 2009 3:00P
MusicFest – Bear River Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 9 2009 9:30P
Tugboat Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 10 2009 9:30P
Tugboat Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jan 11 2009 7:00P
The Grind Cedar City, Utah
Jan 12 2009 7:00P
Pengilly’s Boise, Idaho
Jan 14 2009 10:00P
Biltmore Cabaret Vancouver, British Columbia
Jan 15 2009 10:00P
Sunset Tavern Seattle, Washington
Jan 16 2009 10:00P
River City Saloon Hood River, Oregon
Jan 17 2009 10:00P
Dante’s Portland, Oregon
Jan 18 2009 7:00P
Stillwater Ashland, Oregon
Jan 20 2009 9:00P
Cafe Du Nord San Francisco, California
Jan 21 2009 8:00P
Crystal Bay Casino Crystal Bay, Nevada
Jan 22 2009 9:00P
Mystic Theater Petaluma, California
Jan 23 2009 6:00P
The Torch Club Sacramento, California
Jan 24 2009 3:00P
The Coffee Gallery Backstage Altadena, California
Jan 25 2009 7:00P
Don Quixote’s International Music Hall Santa Cruz, California
Jan 27 2009 9:00P
The Mint Los Angeles, California
Jan 28 2009 8:00P
Coach House San Juan Capistrano, California
Jan 29 2009 8:00P
Rhythm Room Phoenix, Arizona
Jan 30 2009 8:00P
Santa Fe Brewing Co. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jan 31 2009 9:00P
Railroad Blues Alpine, Texas
Feb 7 2009 9:00P
River Ridge Restaurant & Saloon Thackerville, Oklahoma
Feb 8 2009 7:00P
Clubhouse Concert Series w/George Devore & Waylon Payne Fort Worth, Texas
Feb 12 2009 8:30P
Dosey Doe The Woodlands, Texas
Feb 14 2009 11:00P
Sholem Dance Hall Brownsville, Texas
Feb 21 2009 8:00P
Private Galveston, Texas
Feb 22 2009 4:00P
Gruene Hall New Braunfels, Texas
Feb 25 2009 9:00P
Newby’s w/Randy Rogers Band Memphis, Tennessee
Feb 27 2009 9:00P
Smith’s Olde Bar Atlanta, Georgia
Feb 28 2009 8:00P
Puckett’s Farm Equipment Charlotte, North Carolina
Mar 1 2009 7:00P
Berkeley Cafe Raleigh, North Carolina
Mar 3 2009 9:30P
Iota Club & Cafe Arlington, Virginia
Mar 4 2009 7:30P
Rex Theatre Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mar 6 2009 9:00P
Hill Country New York City, New York
Mar 7 2009 9:00P
Hill Country New York City, New York
Mar 9 2009 8:00P
Sellersville Theater Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Mar 11 2009 8:00P
FitzGerald’s Berwyn, Illinois
Mar 12 2009 10:00P
Knuckleheads Kansas City, Missouri
Mar 13 2009 10:00P
Hangin’ Judge Saloon Fort Smith, Arkansas
Mar 26 2009 4:30P
Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo Austin, Texas
Mar 29 2009 3:00P
Tom B. Webb IV Celebration of Life & Music Luling, Texas
Apr 10 2009 7:00P
C4 Amphitheater Cave Creek, Arizona
Apr 18 2009 8:00P
Texas Crawfish Festival Spring, Texas
Apr 19 2009 8:00P
Dell Diamond w/Reckless Kelly Round Rock, Texas
May 29 2009 9:00P
Firehouse Saloon Houston, Texas
May 30 2009 8:00P
Tails & Tunes Port O’Connor, Texas
Jul 24 2009 8:00P
Country Rendez – Vou Festival Craponne, Auvergne
Jul 31 2009 8:00P
Billy Bob’s Saloon Disney Marne La Vallee
Sep 24 2009 7:00P
Private Bastrop, Texas

Win a copy of ‘A Colbert Christmas’

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Connor at is giving away copies of A Colbert Christmas, the Greatest Gift of All, starring Stephen Colbert, Willie Nelson, John Stewart, Toby Keith, Elvis Costello and Feist.

“We’ve got two copies to giveaway, and you should all know the drill by now– if you want one of these DVDs, leave your name and email addy in the comments… I’ll pick two random winners at the end of the week.”

Rolling Stone Magazine: ‘Willie Nelson the World’s Mellowest Man’

Monday, December 29th, 2008
by: Vanessa Grigoriadis

In the 100-degree heat of a Texas afternoon, hundreds of Willie Nelson fans make a pilgrimage to see their prophet, priest and king, in a particularly unassuming spot — Carl’s Corner, an interstate truck stop on a dusty plateau between Austin and Dallas. The stop, and the town to which it belongs (pop. 134), is presided over by Carl himself, a wheezy, unkempt Santa Claus with nine fingers — a rattlesnake has the 10th — and a knack for schemes to separate truckers from dollars. He tried a swimming pool, 24-hour restaurant, wedding chapel and strip club before turning to his good friend Willie Nelson, who had a notion that might work — and also help save the planet: a biodiesel station. Two years and several million dollars later, a large stainless-steel plant run by Pacif­ic Biodiesel rises mightily behind a new wood-paneled juke joint, to supply the 14 gleaming pumps in front with 8,000 gal­lons of biodiesel per day. The stop is now named Willie’s Place.

In the typical Willie way, the scene is chaotic at today’s 10 hours of concerts by Willie and friends — including Ray Price, Johnny Bush and David Allan Coe — with cowboys patting pockets for drink tickets and bum-rushing a bullet supper. Yel­low caution tape has been run around all the pumps, which, it turns out, aren’t yet hooked up to biodiesel. “Oh, they’ll get around to putting it in those pumps for folks eventually,” says Willie, grinning a bit. Though his face is deeply creased, his brown eyes a little cloudy and his beard and eyebrows completely white, the cos­mic cowboy-Buddhist is dressed today like a kid at play: black T-shirt with the sleeves cut oil, worn black slacks and gray New Balance sneakers. Age has made him even mellower than he used to be, say bandmates. He’s become almost pathologically attached to surrounding himself with pos­itive vibes, but there’s a hitch: Willie likes to stir up trouble. In fact, the more things that go wrong, the happier he is.

“A lot of Willie’s life operates on the chaos theory, which doesn’t often happen in entertainment — or happen artfully in entertainment,” says Joe Nick Patoski, au­thor of Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, a biog­raphy of Willie. “He’s a lot more complex a person than people give him credit for, and it’s a complex world around him. But he’s been very good about sailing above it all by sticking to what he does.”

What he does, first and foremost, is work. Willie, who has sold more than 50 million albums in his lifetime, has been busy with many projects this year: In ad­dition to lending his support to causes like Myanmar relief, he has kept up his long-term work with Farm Aid and equine-rescue outfit Habitat for Hors­es; a collaboration with Wynton Marsalis; a co-authored Western novel; as well as an appearance in the 2008 Toby Keith film Beer for My Horses, a cameo in Snoop Dogg’s song “My Medicine” and a new song for an upcoming film, Tennessee, with Mariah Carey. In February, he is releasing an album of Western swing songs with Asleep at the Wheel. In fact, he’d like to rerecord a lot of his own work. “There’s songs that I’ve had, good songs, that never got their due,” he says, nodding his head firmly. In March, Naked Willie, an album of Willie’s recordings on RCA from 1966 to 1970, without the strings and schmaltz, produced by his harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, will be released. “For the album cover,” says Raphael, “Willie took a picture of himself with his iPhone while he was in the bubble bath, and sent it to me.”

Yes, Willie has an iPhone.

The hardest work of all — or the most fun — is touring. At 75, Willie travels about 200 days a year with the “Family Band,” a group that includes his 77-year-old sis­ter, Bobbie, a pianist. Though he gets the occasional bout of heatstroke, he tries to stay in shape on the road: He bikes, prac­tices yoga and bowls on his Wii with his teenage sons, Lukas and Micah, a guitar­ist and a percussionist who tour with him in the summer.

“I’ve heard that lots of senior-citizens centers are getting Wiis, because it really does work,” Willie says, eyes glittering with excitement. He leans in. “You know, most 75-year-olds already decided to hang it up a long time ago. I would never be in that mind-set, because I enjoy what I’m doing. As long as I’m healthy, I’ll never leave the road — well, if people stopped showing up, that might be a reason to quit it. But I’m watching people like B.B. King, or Ernest Tubb, who toured until he died. I’m not ready to quit.” He juts his chin for­ward. “I’m not ready to die, either.”

We’re talking on Willie’s bus. Where else would we be? He rarely leaves it, unless he needs to go onstage: It’s his “submarine,” as he has called it, a darkly tinted bubble from which he watches the world drift by or invites it in. When he’s at home on his ranch in Austin and his wife, Annie, isn’t in town — she has made their other home, in Maui, Hawaii, her primary residence, an arrangement that suits both of them fine — he prefers to sleep on the bus, the rear end of which has a psychedelic portrait of his face morphing into an eagle. The bus is spick-and-span throughout, with black leather seats and mahogany built-ins, and a few personal touches: photos of his grandkids tacked on a corkboard, bum­per stickers like “Make Levees, Not War” on the fridge. His daughter Lana, 55, makes eggs for her father at midnight as they roll into a new town, and he takes naps a cou­ple of times a day back in his bunk.

Willie Nelson, who has sold more than 50 million albums in his lifetime, has been busy with many projects this year: In addition to lending his support to causes like Myanmar relief, he has kept up his long-term work with Farm Aid and equine-rescue outfit Habitat for Horses; a collaboration with Wynton Marsalis; a co-authored Western novel; as well as an appearance in the 2008 Toby Keith film Beer for My Horses, a cameo in Snoop Dogg’s song “My Medicine” and a new song for an upcoming film, Tennessee, with Mariah Carey. In February, he is releasing an album of Western swing songs with Asleep at the Wheel. In fact, he’d like to rerecord a lot of his own work.

“There’s songs that I’ve had, good songs, that never got their due,” he says, nodding his head firmly. In March, Naked Willie, an album of Willie’s recordings on RCA from 1966 to 1970, without the strings and schmaltz, produced by his harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, will be released. “For the album cover,” says Raphael, “Willie took a picture of himself with his iPhone while he was in the bubble bath, and sent it to me.”

“These days, I don’t have many dreams,” Willie says. “That’s a side effect of smoking pot — a bad one, or a good one, depending on what your dreams are.” Another side ef­fect: saying yes to almost everything. “He’s high, so everything sounds good to him,” says Raphael. If something sounds bad, he tries to forget that he heard it. “Willie never lies,” adds drummer Paul English, whose first job was playing with Willie in 1956 (he swears it will be his last one, too). “If I ask him something and he doesn’t answer, I never bring it up again. That’s his way of saying no.”

The kitchen nook is where Willie re­ceives friends, with XM classic country on the dial and his favorite things on the countertop. Not only does he have an iPhone, but he’s brought along two Mac PowerBooks, to check e-mail and surf the Net for left-leaning conspiracy theories (he is not sure that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job). Each of the computers has long, heavy scratch­es in the titanium, because fellow travelers have been known to throw them when ex­periencing technical difficulties. The real test of a star musician’s character is the cohesiveness of his band, and Willie has kept them close — he’s fired only two members in 30 years. He’s become more involved with his biological family as well, committed to maintaining a tight unit with his cur­rent wife and teenage sons. “Every morn­ing, Willie looks in the mirror and says, ‘Open your heart and give love a chance,'” says Turk Pipkin, an old friend and co­author of The Tao of Willie. “It’s nothing that he’s shy about, and it’s served him well.” In return, those around him give him fealty and protection on the road — they know the best medicine for his advancing age is music. “Willie has so much creativity, and it hurts to hold it in,” says Raphael.

This may be the case, but Willie can also be difficult. His Texan instinct to trust the most outlandish huckster in the room is problematic: The original biodiesel com­pany that Willie backed is flailing, its stock price trailing for less than a penny these days; at today’s concert, he’s promoting a Wataire machine, a kind of glorified de-humidifier that creates purified drinking water and has a price tag of $1,600. And he himself is covering up many scars — no-account parents who split quickly after his birth, leaving him to be raised by his grandparents in Depression-era Texas; the years he spent in Nashville as a strug­gling songwriter in the Sixties, until he fi­nally broke through in the mid-1970s; a debt of $16.7 million to the IRS in the early Nineties, which he paid off partially by auctioning his homes and possessions; three divorces, not always amicable; and the suicide of a son in 1991. “This is a guy who has really seen the dark side, and peo­ple don’t think that about Willie so much,” says Billy Bob Thornton, who is beginning work on a documentary about Willie, and whose band, the Boxmasters, toured with him this fall. “Willie doesn’t talk about the torture he’s been through. It only shows on his face.”

It’s a heady mix for guys looking for a fa­ther figure and hoping to hang with one of the world’s last pot-smoking icons. Woody Harrelson, Luke and Owen Wilson, and Johnny Knoxville have all become very close to Willie in recent years. When Knoxville appears at a concert the next day, he grabs crew members in big bear hugs. “I thought your granddaugh­ter was a beauty, and then I saw your daughter!” he tells the stage manager. Later, he be­comes choked up while talking about Willie. “I’m from Ten­nessee, and just to meet Wil­lie was an honor for me, but to call him my friend …” he says, then trails off. “It’s an under­statement to say it’s a special friendship for me.”

Harrelson has become a kind of Boswell for Willie’s funniest lines, which he types into his BlackBerry — “If you’re going to have sex with an animal, make sure it’s a horse, because then at least you’ll have a ride home,” for example — and is a regular at his poker games on Maui. “One time, my wife gave me some money to play poker,” says Har­relson. “I said to Willie, ‘Ah, she gave me this money, and I know I should triple it, but instead I’ll come home tonight smell­ing of whiskey, slobbering and broke.’ Willie said, ‘You have that right! As the breadwinner, it’s not only your right — it’s your responsibility! You have the responsibility to be irresponsi­ble!’ That was one of the most freeing things I ever heard in my life. I really needed to hear that.”

Today Willie takes the stage twice in the sweltering heat, sticking to his most popu­lar songs, like “Good Heart­ed Woman” and “Crazy,” rare­ly cracking a smile until the end, when he lifts his Stetson hat in farewell. As the chaos of mixed-up tickets, high school security guards and a mob of fans rages outside the bus, one of Willie’s roadies, Ben Dorcy, climbs on with Ray Price, who has come to sing a few tunes. Neither man is moving par­ticularly quickly: Price is 83, and Dorcy, a former valet for John Wayne who smokes Lon­don Fog in his pipe, is 81. Price gives a kiss to Willie’s wife, a curly-haired hippie chick who is about half as old as anyone in the room, then turns to “Sis­ter Bobbie,” who is drinking coffee out of a china teacup. “Every night, we get our energy from our audiences,” she says. “Maybe it’s what we put out, but they give it back, and that’s the fuel we need to get through the next day.”

Price and Willie sit down at the kitchen nook in front of a big glass ashtray filled with marijuana, for use in Wil­lie’s vaporizer, which was gift­ed to him by a dude Harrelson met on the beach in Maui. “I’ll smoke anything that comes around,” says Willie. “It doesn’t matter to me what type it is. People like to give me it. They feel that I shouldn’t be with­out it. The vaporizer makes it easier on my lungs, because I was coughing and wheezing a lot.” Is he worried about getting busted for possession again? “You think I won’t?” he says, grinning.

Willie tells Price a few jokes — “I’ve got a new song called ‘I Called Her a Bitch, She Called Me a Son of a Bitch, I Think We Might Make It Work This Time,'” he says, laughing — and starts talking politics. He’s excited about President-­elect Obama, who he thinks is a “good guy, with good ideas, and a good change,” he says. “I never did know if we’d be sharp enough to let the right guy in no matter what color he was,” he adds, then cocks his head. “I was talking to my friend Gatewood Gailbraith the other day, and I asked him what he felt about Obama. He goes, ‘It’s like a turtle on a post. You see it, and you think, How’d that get there?'”

Everyone dies laughing, and Price tells Dorcy to grab a bag of peaches that he bought at a nearby farm stand. Dorcy starts toward the door, inch by inch. “Hey, Ben-Ben,” Willie hol­lers. “If you can’t find those peaches, just bring us some doughnuts.”

Then he takes a puff on the vaporizer.

“I’m working on levitating,” he says, letting out a stream of smoke. “You’ll know when I pass by.”

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Thank you again, Carol, from New York, for sharing your pictures of Willie with us.

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

photo by Larry Dixon

Another Willie Nelson Bootleg: Cuyahoga Falls, OH (9/11/1984)

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Blossom Music Center
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
September 11, 1984

Disc One:
Whiskey River
Stay A Little Longer
Funny How Time Slips Away
Night Life
Down Yonder – Band Intro’s
If You Got The Money Honey
Sweet Memories
Workin Man Blues
Help Me Make It Through The Night
Me And Bobbie McGee
Lovin’ You Is Easier
Blood Mary Morin’
Time Of The Preacher
Blue Eyes Cryin’
Red-Headed Stranger
Time of the Preacher Theme
Under The Double Eagle
Blue Skies
All Of Me
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys – I Can Get High On You
Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground

Disc Two:
On The Road Again
You Were Always On My Mind
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Amazing Grace
Uncloudy Day (1)
Uncloudy Day (2)
Instrumental Exit Vamp
Who’ll Buy My Memories
Write Your Own Songs
City Of New Orleans
All The Girls I’ve Loved
Whiskey River

Willie Nelson to James Caan, in ‘Thief’: “Get Me Out of Here”

Sunday, December 28th, 2008


from the movie, “Thief”

Professional safecracker Frank (James Caan) visits Okla (Willie Nelson) to get some advice for his life on the outside and gets some very good advice: “Lie to no one,” and then is asked to do the impossible — get Okla out of prison before he dies. 

In addition to Willie Nelson, the movie, released in 1981, stars James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Dennis Farina, James Belushi, and others.