Thanks to Ann Willis for this great photo
Thanks to Ann Willis for this great photo
By Don Holland
Howdy! Willie Nelson came to Abbott on Wednesday, December 3, and it was not so long before he was surrounded by a lot of friends and fans who turned out to greet him. Willie was accompanied by his sister Bobbie who plays the piano when they perform with the band. They had come to Abbott to shoot some publicity photos to be used on the cover of a gospel music album that will be released in the future. The reason why they came to Abbott is to have the photos taken in front of the Methodist Church that Willie and Bobbie attended when growing up here in Abbott.
Willie and Bobbie were dressed in their Sunday-go-to-meeting finest. You can see for yourself how sharp they looked in the photos that have been placed on various pagers of the paper.
Rev. Wayne Dunson, the present preacher at the Methodist Church, is the same one that preached there when Willie and Bobbie attended in their youth. He was in the area when Willie and Bobbie showed up and asked me to take a photo of him and Willie. “But, he whispered in my ear, I need to go over and change my coat before you take the picture. I don’t think it would look right with Willie looking more like a preacher than I do.”
Yours truly really enjoyed seeing Willie in Abbott. He had come through town several times during the past month or so and I was always out of town and missed him. Again, true to form, I was out of town, but Jan got on the telephone and had me located in Waco. My brother Ben found me as the screen printers where I was picking up some new T-shirts of Willie as the Red Headed Stranger, and got the message to me. I returned to Abbott immediately and was able to get the photos that you see in this issue.
While chatting with Willie, I asked him whether the movie entitled “The Red Headed Stranger” would be released. He said, “Plans are made to release it February 19, 1987.” So all of you fans stay on the lookout for the movie and remember you can get tee shirts and pictures of Willie as the Red Headed Stranger right here through the Souvenir Shop, either in person or by mail order.
Some of you no doubt read about the Susie Nelson Show that we had booked at the VFW Club in Cameron, Texas, this past November 15th. The show was very successful as the folks there enjoyed the music and singing of our stars Susie Nelson and her band and Chris Robbins with Stagecoach Symphony.
Several phoots that I took are included in thgis issue (page 7) for your eyeballs’ pleasure. Enjoy! Also, we appreciated a big fan of Willie’s coming to the show — Ann Willis of Temple. Ann showed me a lot of photos that she has taken around the countryside and we will try to run some of them in future editions.
Other recent visitors to Willie Nelson Country have come from Robards, Kentucky, Prag, Oklahoma; St. Joseph, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Battle Creek, Michigan; Judsonia Arkansas; Jacksonville, Illionois; and Dallas, Garland, Red Oak, Mesquite, Austin, San Antonio, Temple Branson, Corsicana, Crossroads and Springtown, TX. Coming the longest distance was Lucas Wegmann from Newcastle, Main. We really enjoy meeting and visiting with Willie’s fans from all over the country!
|June 17, 2015||Ogren Park (with Alison Krauss)||Missoula, MT|
|June 19, 2015||Ford Idaho Center (with Alison Krauss)||Nampa, ID|
|June 20, 2015||USANA Ampitheater (with Alison Krauss)||Salt Lake City, UT|
|June 22, 2015||Mountain Winery||Saratoga, CA|
|June 24, 2015||Britt Pavillion (with Alison Krauss)||Jacksonville, OR|
|June 25, 2015||Les Schwab Amphitheater (with Alison Krauss)||Bend, OR|
|June 26, 2015||Edgefield||Troutdale, OR|
|June 27, 2015||Marymoor Park (with Alison Krauss)||Redmond, WA|
|July 4, 2015||zFourth of July Picnic||Austin, TX|
|July 17, 2015||Thunder Valley Casino (with Alison Krauss)||Lincoln, CA|
|July 18, 2015||Greek Theater (with Alison Krauss)||LA, CA|
|July 19, 2015||Orange County Fair (with Alison Krauss)||Costa Mesa, CA|
|July 21, 2015||Vina Robles Amphitheater ( with Alison Krauss)||Paso Robles, CA|
|July 22, 2015||Santa Barbara Bowl w/Alison Krauss||Santa Barbara, CA|
|July 23, 2015||Greek Theater (with Alison Krauss)||Berkley, CA|
|July 24, 2015||Harrah’s Open Sky Theater||Valley Center, CA|
|July 26, 2015||The Chelsea||Las Vegas, NV|
|August 12, 2015||Prospect Park (with Old Crow Medicine Show)||Brooklyn, NY|
|August 14, 2015||Nelson Ledges Quarry Park (with Old Crow Medicine Show)||Garrettsville, OH|
|Aug 15, 2015||Peach Music Festival
|August 16, 2015||Borgata Hotel and Casino (with Old Crow Medicine Show)||Atlantic City, NJ|
|August 18, 2015||Fraze Pavillion||Kettering, OH|
|August 19, 2015||Merriweather Post Pavilion (with Old Crow Medicine Show)||Colombia, MD|
|August 21, 2015||Blue Hills Bank Pavilion (with Old Medicine Show)||Bostin, MA|
|August 22, 2015||Simsbury Meadows PAC(with Old Crow Medicine Show)||Simsbury, CT|
|August 23, 2015||Bank of NH Pavilion (with Old Crow Medicine Show)||Gilford, NH|
|September 18, 2015||Horseshoe Casino
|September 19, 2015||Farm Aid||??? TBA|
|September 23, 2015||Bank of New||Austin, TX|
|September 27, 2015||Pilgrimage Festival||Franklin, TN|
by: By Joe Gross
Attention, people of Texas in general and Austin in particular: Michael Streissguth, author of “Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville,” insists that the title is not personal.
Indeed, it absolutely makes sense.
When most folks think of outlaw country, they think of Texas. “Progressive” country, the Armadillo World Headquarters, hippies and rednecks getting together: These things are as crucial to the mythology of late 20th-century Austin as anything.
But Waylon Jennings, he of the massive voice, rugged persona and love of the guitar phaser-effect; Willie Nelson, he of “Red-Headed Stranger” and dealing with super-stardom better than most; Kris Kristofferson, he of a genuinely revolutionary way to write country songs: These guys were rebelling against Nashville, not Texas.
And Nashville was still (and is still) the world capital of country music, the center of the industry, the place where all three artists spent an awful lot of time.
“I do feel like Nashville lived in some ways in the shadows of this movement,” Streissguth says.
The Le Moyne College professor is the author of several books on country music, including two on Johnny Cash. “They had come from Texas, but they were based in Nashville, for the most part,” Streissguth says. (Willie’s Texas residency excluded.) “I wanted to tell the Nashville side of the story.”
Streissguth says the book started when he began to look into the life and times of the great Waylon Jennings.
“When ‘Crazy Heart’ with Jeff Bridges came out, it reminded me that Jennings had been dead (about seven years), and he seemed to be slipping from memory,” Streissguth says. He started getting into Waylon’s life and career, and that opened up the outlaw topic.
“Outlaw” traces the movement via the very different career paths of Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson. All three intersected with each other’s careers, all three embodied a new way of thinking about (and writing and recording) country music.
But all three started at different points and arrived at very different places. Along with way, Streissguth folds in figures such as Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Kinky Friedman, and, of course, Johnny Cash.
“I don’t want to say there is a specific path from Cash to outlaw,” Streissguth says. However, Cash is certainly a player, recording Kristofferson’s songs and engaging progressive singer-songwriters on his short-lived-but-increasingly legendary TV show, which featured performances from Kristofferson, Jennings and Bob Dylan.
In fact, Dylan’s recording “Blonde on Blonde” in Nashville is one of the key moments in the development of outlaw country. “There was one ‘a-ha!’ moment in writing this, and that was finding out that Kristofferson was working as a studio lackey during the ‘Blonde on Blonde’ sessions,” Streissguth says. “I don’t think you can’t discount how Dylan changed Nashville.”
Then again, Streissguth got a lot of time with Kristofferson. “He was very generous,” Streissguth says. “I didn’t talk to Willie, though I tried, and Waylon came alive for me through his drummer and confidant Richie Albright. Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark and Roseanne Cash were great as well.”
What emerges is a case for Nashville as its own incubator, a place where, for a brief period of time, this sort of songwriting flourished.
“I do think that we typecast Nashville,” Streissguth says. “There was very much a Greenwich Village-like scene in the West End,” the neighborhood that helped nurture all of the book’s heroes.
In fact, there were many aspects to Nashville in this period that Streissguth thinks have been under-reported or are becoming forgotten. An entire generation knows Kristofferson more as a character actor than a songwriter.
“It’s a cliche at this point, but Kristofferson’s songwriting changed Nashville, it really did,” Streissguth says. “And I developed a great appreciation for producers such as Fred Foster and Jack Clement. These guys were serious risk takers. They took chances on artists, and you need that in a vibrant scene. Anything that is pioneering involves money and risk.”
Streissguth notes that Clement collected these songwriters, giving them publishing deals and pushing them to think big about their careers. “He would say, ‘you’re a writer, but have you thought about performing? What about film-making?’”
Waylon, the reason for all of this research, also came under some revision.
“There was a lot of bluster surrounding him and this idea that the was rebelling for the sake of rebelling,” Streissguth says. “But you look at the nuances of his career, and he really had been beaten down by the Nashville machine. He was thinking about packing it in and becoming a session guitarist.”
And then there were Waylon’s personal habits. “Cocaine is almost a character in this book,” Streissguth says. (Speed is pretty important as well.) “I think Waylon’s suspicion of journalists and fans really harmed him in the long run. Had Waylon made himself more accessible to the world, the way Willie did, I suspect we would be talking about him in the same way as Willie.”
Ah, Willie. He really does emerge from “Outlaw” better than anyone.
“No question he becomes the quintessential outlaw figure,” Streissguth says. Kristofferson went Hollywood, Waylon flamed out, but Willie endured. “He’s remained on this even path, and he’s still such a powerful symbol of so many aspects of American culture.”
I met Robert Redford at a benefit in New York City. The next day, we found ourselves sitting next to each other on the plane back to Los Angeles. We got to talking. He told me about this movie, The Electric Horseman, that he and Jane Fonda were about to make with director Sydney Pollack.
“Ever thought about doing a movie, Willie?” he asked.
“Sure. But let me ask you this, Bob: is acting anything like having a conversation?”
“That’s exactly what it’s like.”
“Well, I believe I can do that.”
“You’re a natural, Willie. As a singer and musician, you’re naturally relaxed. As an actor, I think that same quality would come through.”
I thanked him for the kind remark. The more I thought about it, the more I was inclined to make the move. But how?
Figured the simplest way was the best. Pick up the phone, call the boss, and ask for the job. In this case the boss was Sydney Pollack.
I’d never met the man, but he sounded glad to hear from me. “How can I help you, Willie?”
“Put me in that movie you’re making with Bob and Jane Fonda.”
He laughed, not scornfully but sweetly.
“Come to think of it,” he said, “you might be right for the part of Redford’s manager. Would you mind reading for it?”
“Be my pleasure.”
The reading was easy. The part was easy. I played myself. In fact, in every movie to follow, I played myself. Or as that great sidekick cowboy Slim Pickens would soon say, “No one plays Willie Nelson better than Willie Nelson.”
I didn’t plan and I didn’t rehearse. I learned my lines, but tended to bend them my own way — or borrow from writer friends. In The Electric Horseman, Pollack loved the line I spewed: “Gonna get myself a bottle of tequila and find me one of those Keno girls who can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch and kick back.” Still not sure how that made it past the ratings people. Wish I could claim credit, but I’d found it in a novel by my buddies Bud Shrake and Dan Jenkins, who were happy to loan it out. For the most part, though, I did what Redford had predicted I’d do: I said what came naturally.
Reviews were great. I sang what I thought was an appropriate song on the soundtrack, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, as well as Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.
The film did brisk business, I got good reviews and, just like that, I was sitting in a dark theatre and staring up at myself on the silver screen, another one of those crazy boyhood fantasies turned real. The hustler in me got all worked up. Movies were not only easy to do, but the exposure gave me an even bigger audience, not to mention good money.
Just as I’d always wanted to do it my own way with music, I wanted to take the same approach with film. I’d work up my own projects. The first that came to mind wasRed Headed Stranger. Connie [Nelson’s third wife] had been right: ever since I sang it to my children, I’d always seen that song as a movie. If people were calling me a natural actor, I sure as hell would call that song a natural film script.
Took the idea to my friend Bud Shrake, but Bud was hesitant.
“How you gonna make a hero out of a man who shoots his woman to death for stealing a horse?”
Bud suggested I try another writer friend in Austin, Bill Wittliff, who wrote a beautiful screenplay that Universal liked. My idea was to make the movie with their money through my production company. Of course I’d play the Red Headed Stranger.
Universal didn’t see it that way. They saw Robert Redford in the role. They also wanted me to leave Columbia Records for their label, MCA. Welcome to Hollywood, where strings are always attached.
Being a practical man, I couldn’t dismiss their offer out of hand. Redford could easily play the part. I called Bob to see what he thought of the script. He liked it but said he needed time to make a decision.
Well, two years later Bob still hadn’t made up his mind. By then Universal had lost interest and I was back where I started. I had a good screenplay but no financing. And of course I was not about to break Hollywood’s golden rule: When making a movie, never use your own money.
With patience, I figured, the stars would be aligned and the Red Headed Stranger would have his day.
In the meantime, other roles came my way. In Honeysuckle Rose, I starred as Buck Bonham, a Willie Nelson-styled character torn between his love for his wife, Dyan Cannon, and his girlfriend, Amy Irving — a delicious dilemma if there ever was one. Sydney Pollack was the producer. At one point Sydney, director Jerry Schatzberg and I were flying to some location in a private plane.
“This movie could use a song, Willie,” said Sydney. “What do you say?”
I was always willing, ready, and able to write a song. “What do you think it should be about?” I asked. “Being on the road.”
Nonchalantly, I threw out a line at them: “On the road again.”
Sydney and Jerry looked at each other for a second or two. Then, at the same time, they said, “That’s it!”
“But do you have a melody?” asked Sydney. “I will by the time we get to the studio.”
By the time the plane landed, the lyrics were written.
On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
As promised, the melody clicked in shortly thereafter. Independent of the film, the song wound up with a life of its own. Even got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Became a big hit on its own — so big that when it was time to air the movie on TV, they changed the title from Honeysuckle Rose to On the Road Again. That simple song, a part of my nightly repertoire ever since I wrote it back in 1979, has had a longer battery life than the film it was written for.
The studios took a liking to me. In Barbarosa, written by Bill Wittliff, I played the lead character, a badass cowboy, and co-starred with Gary Busey. The press had been calling me an outlaw for so long, I figured I might as well get paid to play one.
And in Songwriter, I was Doc Jenkins, the most autobiographical Willie Nelson character of all. That’s ’cause it was written by Bud Shrake, who knew me so well. The story has Doc all mixed up with hard-headed producers, crooked promoters, and sexy women. He means well. All he wants is a simple life with his wife and children, but he just can’t resist the temptations of the road. That sounded awfully familiar. I was having fun, but my co-star Kris Kristofferson proved to be a singer who, unlike me, had honest to God acting chops.
At about the same time my movie career kicked off — the tail end of the seventies — I was able to buy the old Pedernales Country Club together with a large parcel of land. Thirty miles outside Austin, this acreage was the perfect spot. There was lots of room for friends and family to camp out as long as they wanted. This was also where I’d build my recording studio.
Copyright © 2015 by Willie Nelson. Extracted from My Life: It’s a Long Story, by Willie Nelson (Sphere, $32.99).
On May 29, 2009, Willie Nelson ended two-night run in concert at Boston’s historic Fenway Park with the Dave Matthews Band.
To see more photos:
By Mark Ellis
To say his Christian faith is unconventional is an understatement. A rebel since his teens, the singer’s tumultuous career and personal life mirror the ups and downs of his spiritual journey, which seems to resemble a tapestry of many colors.
But embedded deeply in his DNA is his Christian upbringing in the Abbott Methodist Church in rural Texas, where he and sister Bobbie sang gospel songs as children.
His mother deserted him shortly after his birth, which undoubtedly left a painful void. A short time later, his father remarried and left Willie and his sister in the care of grandparents, Mama and Daddy Nelson, who loved the Lord.
Daddy Nelson, a blacksmith, bought him a guitar when he was six and taught him a few chords, which began Willie’s life-long love affair with music.
Their grandfather gave sister Bobbie a piano he procured for $35. Bobbie recalls their grandmother singing the gospel standard “The Great Speckled Bird” while she and Willie played along in church, according to an interview she did with Matt Curry, a Presbyterian minister.
“I don’t sing,” Bobbie told Rev. Curry. “When I was very young, I used to harmonize with Willie when we would sing in church. His voice is so good, and I never had that quality of voice. He didn’t need me. I could get in his way. So I just played piano for him to sing. That’s what we still do.”
The Abbott Methodist Church still holds a special place in Willie’s heart. When the church faced financial problems in 2006 and considered selling the building, the singer purchased it so they could continue holding services.
“Now, you’re all members of the Abbott Methodist Church, and you will be, forever and ever,” he told congregants then, according to news sources.
The church’s Facebook page describes it as a “wonderful ole country church saved from destruction by Willie and Bobbie Nelson. God is alive and well at the Abbott Methodist Church!!!!!!” The worship schedule includes the notation that “you just never know who will be there for service.”
As a younger man, Willie taught Sunday School in Fort Worth, Texas and sold Bibles door-to-door to makes end meet.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and also the founder of www.Godreports.com, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions.
** You may republublish and any of OUR ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
Willie hosts the Valentine concert in Austin 1991.
Steel guitar by the great Jimmy Day.
We’ll sit down with Willie Nelson for an exclusive one-on-one interview. The country icon shares untold and unfiltered stories from his past in his new memoir, It’s a Long Story: My Life. From running into a burning house to breaking the law, as well as thoughts on his famous outlaw friends, it’s a candid conversation with a legend.
The Country Music Hall of Fame member co-wrote It’s a Long Story: My Life with veteran biographer David Ritz. It’s filled with new revelations and new recollections of some familiar tales, such as waking up Patsy Cline to pitch her a song he’d recently written titled “Crazy.”
“We were at Tootsie’s Orchid in Nashville, and I had brought that song with me from Texas,” Nelson recently told CMT Hot 20 Countdown’s Katie Cook. “I just got there, and I had talked Tootsie into letting me put it on the jukebox and Charlie Dick, Patsy Cline’s husband, was there.
“We were having a beer, listening to the song, and he says, ‘Patsy has to do this song.’ I said, ‘Well, maybe one day,’ and he said, ‘No. Now. Let’s go play it for her.’
“So it was after midnight by then, and we woke Patsy up — he did — and I wouldn’t get out of the car. But she come out and made me get out of the car. I went in and sang her the song, and she recorded the song the next week.”
Growing up in the small farm town of Abbott, Texas, had a huge influence on Nelson’s guitar and vocal style. Part of those influences are evident on Django and Jimmie, his new album with Merle Haggard, that pays tribute to gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers.
“I grew up in all of that, in all of that environment,” Nelson said, joking, “I may have talked about it in the book. I don’t know. I have to read that book one day.
“But I was always out in the cotton fields and the corn fields, working with the Mexicans and the African-Americans, and they were all singing all day long. You know, there’s nothing else to do out there but sing. So I would have a symphony out there. I’d hear some good great Mexican Chicano music over here. Then over there, I’d hear some great blues and gospel.”
As for writing his memoir, Nelson told Cook there was a simple reason for doing it now.
“I would have never done it on my own if they hadn’t started waving money,” he said. “But it turned out OK. I am glad I did it now.”
Just one more Red Rocks photo, I’m just missing getting to see the band at Red Rocks. This photo is from book by G. Brown, “Colorado Rocks”.