Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Willie Nelson and Bobby LiPuma

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

www.wideopencountry.com
by: Bobby Moore

Jazz Producer Tommy LiPuma’s Biography Tells Story About Willie Nelson

Jazz shapes the music of Willie Nelson, from his long-established appreciation for guitarist Django Reinhardt to his albums of standards. Those albums go beyond Stardust and include American Classic, a jazz-heavy 2009 collection produced by Tommy LiPuma.

American Classic included a re-recording of Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” plus duets with Diana Krall and Norah Jones. Any collection of older songs reinterpreted by Nelson hits the spot, be it this album or the following year’s roots music survey Country Music.

As for LiPuma, the Cleveland, Ohio native won five Grammy awards while working with the likes of Miles Davis, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Dave Mason, the Sandpipers, Natalie Cole, the O’Jays, Randy Newman, Leon Russell and Dr. John.

LiPuma, who passed away in 2017 at age 80, is the subject of jazz musician Ben Sidran’s recent book The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma.

“His experience encapsulates the modern recording industry,” Sidran says of LiPuma in a press release. “You can see the evolution of the way music was captured and recorded and distributed, how it evolved, and the impact of the technologies and the marketing strategies. You can read his story and get all that information just because of who he was and where he was, at exactly the right time.”

Sidran’s celebration of an American music master, released on May 5 by Nardis Books, includes the following excerpt about LiPuma’s working relationship with Nelson. As you might suspect, it’s part musical history lesson, part tale about smoking weed with Willie.

Willie Nelson and Tommy LiPuma, from The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma

Bruce Lundvall, the president of Blue Note Records, asked Tommy if he was interested in doing an album with Willie Nelson. “I loved Willie’s standards album,” says Tommy, “and my first thought was to use Joe Sample–like Willie, Joe is from Texas–so Joe and I went to Austin to spend a day at Willie’s ranch. How shall I put this? It’s a place of ultimate highness. It’s not like it’s over the top, but every so often, Willie’s got this smoking contraption that’s on a stand and he fires it up. Willie is high most of the day and into the night.

“We spent a whole day going through tunes. He was right there with us, and he was just great. He has a real ‘standards’ aesthetic. He really knows this stuff upside down, backwards and forwards.

“And at one point, when we had gone through all the tunes, he said, ‘Come on, lemme show you around the ranch.’ Willie’s got several hundred acres; there’s what looks like a Hollywood set on the property. We got into his truck and the first stop we made was this little church that looked like it was right out of the 1880s, pews and all. Then we got back in the truck and we ended up at what looked like a Western town, with a saloon with swinging doors, the whole thing. We went in and there were all his pals sitting around drinking beer.

“He’s got a lot of very interesting buddies. Not just the guys who were there drinking beer. At one point, I got thirsty and I said, ‘You got any water back there?’ He said, ‘Right over there,’ so I took a glass, and man the water tasted great! I made a remark, because there was no bottle on top of it, like at a water cooler, it was just coming from a pipe straight out of the wall. I said, ‘Is this your tap water?’ and he said a friend of his invented this thing that grabs the moisture out of the atmosphere and turns it into pure drinking water. Willie’s got some hip friends.”

A few months later, Willie, Tommy, and Joe all met up in New York at Right Track Studios, where they had a big studio for the band and a nice little isolation booth for Willie. Willie’s booth was connected directly to the control room, and of course wherever Willie goes, his pipe goes with him. You couldn’t enter the vocal booth unless you were willing to have an attitude adjustment.

Willie had parked his tour bus in front of the studio on Forty- eighth Street, and when he wasn’t recording, he would hang out there. He also slept on the bus. After a couple of days, somebody called Tommy and said, “Check out page six.” Tommy opened the ‘Daily News’ and read, “Willie Nelson is apparently in town recording an album at a studio on 48th Street. You can tell from the wafts of smoke coming out of this bus as you walk down the street.'” Pretty soon, Tommy was hanging out on the bus too, using Willie’s sound system to check out the recordings. By the recording’s conclusion, Tommy and Willie were like two old shoes.

“The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in your Heart” released (May 9, 2006)

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

On May 9, 2006, Gotham Books released “The Tao Of Willie: A Guide To The Happiness In Your Heart.” Willie Nelson co-wrote the book with Turk Pipkin.

The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart (Unabridged)
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

The funny thing about advice is that no matter how good it is, most people are gonna do what they want anyway. That’s why my general philosophy has been never to miss an opportunity to shut up. So now that I’m writing a book in which I’m constantly giving advice, I must remind you to read the warning label on my bottle of wisdom.

Because something works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you, especially in large doses.

When a doctor prescribes a medicine, he doesn’t suggest you take the whole bottle, and neither does my part-time gynecologist alter ego, Doctor Booger Nelson.

Speaking of Doctor Nelson, did you hear about the woman who was such a fan of country music that she has a tattoo of Merle Haggard done in a very delicate spot, high on her right thigh, and a tattoo of Waylon Jennings high on the other other thigh.

Worried that the two tattoos weren’t recognizable, she slips off her undies, lifts her skirt to a guy in a bar, and says, “Can you tell who that is?”

So the guy puts on his glasses, looks real close, and says, ” I don’t know who those other two guys are, but the one in the middle is Willie Nelson!”

Willie Nelson in Mother Earth News (May/June 1987)

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Mother Earth News
May/June 1987
Farm Aid’s Founder:  Willie Nelson
Patrick Carr

It’s midwinter in Tampa, Florida, and as usual the weather is warm going on stifling.  Willie Nelson really needs the air conditioner humming peacefully in his mobile home away from home, the Silver Eagle Honeysuckle Rose.

In his own, quiet, careful way, Willie’s all business today.  Waiting in the cool, dark comfort of the bus for the horde of people his presence will draw to town tonight, he’s working hard:  poring over snapshots of himself and his sister Bobbie outside the Abbott, Texas, church in which they learned to sing, for the cover of a genuine hard-core Christian mail-order gospel album; making little decisions about the set he and his band of honky-tonk gypsies will play tonight; ordering up a carefully nutritious chicken dinner from the kitchen bus that travels with his five-vehicle caravan, then forgetting to eat it; talking business with little haste or waste of words or energy, on the radio telephone at his elbow.

The business concerns the usual megastar matters — movie promotion, investment opportunities, the touring schedule, a $1.5 million book contract — but also something seemingly out of place in this context:  the Farm Aid cause, Mr. Nelson’s foray into public service.  Cocooned amid Tampa’s concrete consumerism, the former Bible salesman, and latter-day multimillionaire is taking time to help the family farmers of his country fight back against government policy, big business and the economics of scale.

There is something rather special about Willie Nelson.  It was he, after all, who united the rednecks and the hippies and the surburbanites of the 1970s in appreciation of a style of country music considered both archaic and impossibly uncommercial by the Nashville powers-that-were.  Likewise his image — a lovely blend of longhair, cowboy, rebel, hardcore party legend and wise old man — is suggestive.

It’s no wonder he’s such an institution.  You can look up to some entertainers (Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney), but Willie invites involvement, not distance.  The dominant element of his stare — a thoroughly savvy serenity — is mighty trustworthy.

That invitation to trust must have been part of his image all along.  Certainly it was during his late teenage years, when he was already trying to get ahead in the world by promoting dance concerts throughout east Texas, earning his percentage from acts like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Milton Brown and the Brownies, Spade Cooley, and the legendary Ernest Tubb while he watched from the wings and learned the ropes.  It also impressed the folks in the Nashville big leagues after Willie had decided to forgo his studies for the Baptist ministry in favor of a full-time career in the hillbilly highway nightlife; you need a lot more than even the kind of devastating song-writing talent Willie possesses to become a primary source for the Music Row hit machine the way he did in pretty short order.  And when eventually his ambitions outstripped what Nashville was willing to offer and he made his legendary end-run around Music Row, his aura so impressed the college hippies of Austin, texas, that not too long after he’d been among them they began to buy posters proclaiming, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and Willie,” and to enshrine them in their places of fun and meditation.

A Nashville executive describes his experience:  “It was amazing, just wonderful,” says the Nashville executive.  “I’ve never seen anything like it.  Neil Reshen (Willie’s manager) was so bad — I mean, you really wanted to have the man arrested; the secretaries used to run for the bathroom when he showed up.  But when you talked to Willie, it was like negotiating with Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and you were so relieved you didn’t have to deal with Neil that you gave Willie whatever he wanted.  But, of course, what Neil wanted and what Willie wanted were the same things.  They were working the good cop, bad cop routine, the oldest con in the world, but they did it so well you didn’t realize what was going on till it was all over.  And by then you’d done a deal you’d never have even dreamed of otherwise.  Willie just outplayed me, and he ended up getting what he really deserved.  And all that means is he’s smarter than I am.  He just has to turn that smile on you, and you’re hooked.  But now I take him seriously.  He may be beautiful, but he’s not dumb.”

Such a man — with his hard-earned combination of country compassion, common sense and carefully honed business skills – would have been the perfect choice if American farmers had gone looking for a leader in their hour of need.  That’s not how it happened, though.  It was Willie who went unbidden to the farmers.

September 1985 was when it began, in Champagne, Illinois, as a notion kicked around between Willie and his crew in the wake of Bob Geldof’s Life Aid marathon.  As Willie recalls, in the low-to-vanishing key for which he is renowned, “I have no idea how it got started.  I was just sitting in the bus….”

Like a large proportion of the projects Willie judges worthy, the 14-hour Farm Aid benefit moved from the idea to action with little further ado.  It was set up with minimum fuss and executed with slightly less toll and craziness than usually attends a mammoth outdoor music festival featuring multiple major entertainers.  (Which figures.  After more than a decade of organizing and hosting his legendary Fourth of July picnics, Willie is perhaps the world’s premier mastermind of such events.)   When it was all over — when Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, Alabama, Billy Joel, Kris Kristofferson, Bon Jovi, Joni Mitchell, Waylon Jennings, Kenny Rogers, Neil Young, Merle Haggard, John Cougar Mellencamp and some 45 other acts had done their thing and the TV viewers who watched them had sent in their donations — Willie and his crew suddenly found themselves in temporary possession of a great deal of donated money.

That came as something of a shock.  “I figured people would respond,” says Willie, “but not nearly as well as they did, and as all that money started rollin’ in, I had to rethink my position.  I realized I had to do a lot more than make some calls and go out and sing.  My name was attached to that money, so by necessity I had to take responsibility and decide that I would be the one who writes the checks.  So that’s what happens, nothing goes out without my signature on it.  And so far, I know that every quarter of that money has gone to benefit the family farmer in some way.”

After Farm Aid One in Illinois and Farm Aid Two, held in Austin on the Fourth of July, 1986, the approximate total for which Willie has taken responsibility is $14 million.

And Willie doesn’t just sign the checks, he approves them.

“He makes the final decision,” says Caroline Mugar, the director of Farm Aid (Willie is Chairman of the Board).  “We just do the research on what’s going on, who’s doing what where, what they hope to do and how they’ve used the money they’ve already gotten, and we make recommendations.  Then Willie decides.”

“It’s a Long Story: My Life”, by Willie Nelson (in Stores May 5, 2015)

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Willie Nelson: The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes”

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Atlantic City Press
by Robert Digiacomo
2002

Willie Nelson likes telling jokes. He’s included plenty of them in his new book “The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes” (Random House), a sequel of sorts to his autobiography “Willie.”

“The Facts of Life” is a compilation of anectdotes from the road, song lyrics surveying Nelson’s career, and, of course, his jokes, which fall into basic categories: dirty, as the book’s title suggests, and the dumb blond variety.

The bearded, ponytailed singer/songwriter — as well known in the last decade for his Farm Aid benefits and tax battles with the Internal Revenue Service as for his music — wasn’t worried about offending his readers, though.

“I was married to a blond for a long time and I have a blond daughter,” says Nelson, who is appearing at 7 p.m., Sunday, January 27 at the Tropicana. “Most of the blond jokes I’ve heard from them. I don’t think the blondes are offended. I don’t think they get half of them.”

All joking aside, Nelson, who has written the lyrics to ‘Crazy,’ ‘Hellow Walls,’ ‘On the Road Again’ and ‘Always on My Mine,’ among hundreds of others, uses the book’s 202 pages most effectively as a showcase for his songwriting.

“I think songs on paper — words on paper without the melodies — have a different impact and a different impression,” says Nelson, who was recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “I wanted to see if mine came off just as well…. as they did with melodies.”

For his newly released album “The Great Divide” (Lost Highway) though, nelson took a different tack. He wrote only the title cut, choosing instead to record a collection of songs by other writers.

The album has been likened to Santana’s ‘Supernatural’ in its multigenerational assemblage of behind-the-scenes talent.

Among its 12 cuts are three songs by matchbox twenty’s Rob Thomas, who co-wrote the hit ‘mooth’ for Santana, as well as tune by longtime Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin and Cyndi Lauper (a cover of ‘Time After Time’).

Making guest appearances are Sheryl Crow, Lee Ann Womack, Kid Rock, Brian McKnight, Alison Krauss and Bonnie Raitt.

“It was all part of the information I had — it’s hard to disregard a guy who just sold 10 million albums,” Nelson says of his working with Rob Thomas. “Naturally, that was there, but it wasn’t the main reason I did it. I like the way he produced and what he did with matchbox twenty. It wasn’t just for the Santana success, but that was in the corner of my mind.”

The Country Music Hall of Famer says he relied heavily on producer Matt Serletic to assemble the writers and material.

“I tried not to get in his way,” Nelson says. “I believe if you have enough faith in a guy to say ‘produce me,’ you ought to let him do it. I looked forward to seeing what those guys would come up with.”

Despite the mix of writers, the album manages to make a personal statement about reaching a certain stage in your life.

“I think a lot of the songs have to do with the more mature audience,” Nelson says. “There’s a lot fo songs like ‘This Face’ and ‘Recollection Phoenix’ that are talking about everyone aging a little bit.”

‘This Face’ is especially poignant, opening with: ‘This face is all I hav worn n and lived in/Lines beneath my eyes, they’re like old friends/ and this old heart’s been beaten up/ My ragged soul, it’s had things rough. In fact, the emotions were so raw that Nelson wasn’t sure he wanted to record it.

“I wasn’t sure it might be calling too much attention to something, or people might think I was going for sympathy or something,” he explains.

Given the tilt of some of the material, Nelson’s label has high expectations the album will reach beyond a country audience to achieve crossover success.

For his first collection of new material in five years, Nelson has switched labels within Universal, from Island Def Jam to Lost Highway.

The new label not too coincidentally also released the hugely successful soundtrack to the move “O Brother, Where Art Though.”

“I wasn’t sure about it,” Nelson says of the change. “They convinced me Lost Highway was a good label. I started hearing good things about them. They had done the ‘O Brother Where Art Though’ record. Well, I said, ‘nothing wrong with that’ — it was like the Santana thing.”

The new label’s enthusiastic backing has helped to gain crucial radio support for Nelson, who, along with Waylon Jennings and Tompall Glaser, in the 1970s became known as one of country’s outlaws — traditional country artists who were ignored by the Nashville establishment.

“I think it’s a compliment to be called an outlaw, a guy trying to be independent and do his own thing,” says Nelson, whose first single is the duet ‘Mendocino County Line’ with Womack. “I know there’s a lot of them out there trying to do it. The opposition is probably as strong today or maybe stronger than when I first started singing.”

“I’ve been talking the last week to countles country music radio stations — they’re all waiting for The Great Divide, and I expect it will get more play. This is one of those cases where the record company is really behind it.”

Having yet another new release makes choosing his set list for his live shows that much more difficult.

And there’s likely to be more Nelson music in the near future — the versatile performer has four other albums in the can: reggae and jazz releases, as well as tribute albums to Hank Williams and Ray Price.

“Every night I do a lot of the older songs and a lot of newer song,” Nelson says. “When I do an album, I add them to the show. I have to figure out where to drop. It’s always hard to decide.”

Willie Nelson, “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving to Me”

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

When people ask me which of the songs Ive written are my favorites, “Still is Still Moving” always comes up near the top of the list. The band and I play it at almost every concert, and I’ve recorded it countless times, as well, so you have got to figure the song means something important to me.

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the song is me.

Whether you look at the song from the point of view of ancient philosophies or from the modern knowledge of quantum physics, there is great motion in all stillness, and true stillness at the heart of all action.

The early Chinese philosophers referred to hits in the concept of something called wu wei, which suggests fulfilling every task with the least necessary action. Two notes are not required when one will suffice. Twenty words may not say something better than ten, or one. For me, that word is stillness.

No matter how still I am, the world around me is abuzz with activity, and the world within me as well. Modern physics tells us that the atoms in our body ” and all the particles and forces that make up those atoms ” are never at rest. While our bodies and the world around us seem solid, that physical appearance is merely an illusion, for each of our atoms is comprised primarily of empty space.

If your life in this modern world seems to pass you by at the speed of light, perhaps you could consult Einstein, who proved that the faster we travel, the more time is compressed. That’s right, the faster we go, the less time we have. So what is your hurry?

This may not mean much to you, but it must be quite traumatic for the atoms. Would you like to hear an atom joke? I didn’t think so, but here is one anyway:

A neutron went into a bar and says, “How much for a beer?”

The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”


The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

The Tao of Willie Nelson
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

Photographs of Marty Stuart

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

To celebrate the joys of photography and country music, we’re giving away a copy of American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart.

www.cowboysindians.com

If you only know Marty Stuart the legendary country musician, you need to get to know Marty Stuart the phenomenal photographer. From the publisher of Stuart’s photo book, American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart.

“Although known primarily as a country music star, Marty Stuart has been taking photographs of the people and places surrounding him since he first went on tour with bluegrass performer Lester Flatt at age 12. His inspirations to do this include his own mother, Hilda Stuart, whom he watched document their family’s everyday life in Mississippi, bassist Milt Hinton’s photographs of fellow jazz artists, and Edward Curtis’ well-known images of Native Americans at the turn of the 20th century.

“Stuart’s work ranges from intimate and often candid behind-the-scenes depictions of legendary musicians, to images that capture the eccentricities of characters from the back roads of America, to dignified portraits of members of the impoverished Lakota tribe in South Dakota, a people he was introduced to through his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash. Whatever the subject, Stuart is able to sensitively tease out something unexpected or hidden beneath the surface through a skillful awareness of timing and composition as well as a unique relationship with many of the subjects based on years of friendship and trust.

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving To Me”

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

When people ask me which of the songs Ive written are my favorites, “Still is Still Moving” always comes up near the top of the list.  The band and I play it at almost every concert, and I’ve recorded it countless times, as well, so you have got to figure the song means something important to me.

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the song is me.

Whether you look at the song from the point of view of ancient philosophies or from the modern knowledge of quantum physics, there is great motion in all stillness, and true stillness at the heart of all action.

The early Chinese philosophers referred to hits in the concept of something called wu wei, which suggests fulfilling every task with the least necessary action.  Two notes are not required when one will suffice.  Twenty words may not say something better than ten, or one.  For me, that word is stillness.

No matter how still I am, the world around me is abuzz with activity, and the world within me as well.  Modern physics tells us that the atoms in our body ” and all the particles and forces that make up those atoms ” are never at rest.  While our bodies and the world around us seem solid, that physical appearance is merely an illusion, for each of our atoms is comprised primarily of empty space.

If your life in this modern world seems to pass you by at the speed of light, perhaps you could consult Einstein, who proved that the faster we travel, the more time is compressed.  That’s right, the faster we go, the less time we have.  So what is your hurry?

This may not mean much to you, but it must be quite traumatic for the atoms.  Would you like to hear an atom joke?  I didn’t think so, but here is one anyway:

A neutron went into a bar and says, “How much for a beer?”

The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”

The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

The Tao of Willie Nelson
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

This day in Willie Nelson history, “It’s a Long Story: My Life”, by Willie Nelson (May 5, 2015)

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Willie Nelson featured in hemp pop-up book

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

It’s 2019, and cannabis is finally becoming accepted as a recreational activity worthy of one of the fastest growing business industries in the country. With more states legalizing the medical and recreational use of weed, filmmakers, musicians, agriculturalists, entrepreneurs, and even artists are using their skills to pay tribute to the world’s most wonderful plant.

With this year’s 4/20 holiday quickly approaching, it’s okay to take some time out of the day to think of what kind of gifts one might want to give their cannabis-loving roommate or co-worker. One gift that stands out–or pops out, one could say–from the rest, is Dimensional Cannabis: The Pop Up Book of Marijuana, the world’s first cannabis pop up book.

The art featured in the book was designed by renowned illustrator, graffiti writer, and tattoo artist, Mike Giant, and covers various aspects of cannabis culture. Dimensional Cannabis was produced by Poposition Press, an independent press company which designs, publishes, and distributes unique limited edition pop up books which are created in collaboration with contemporary artists.

Readers will notice in the video below that there’s an entire pop-up page dedicated to some of the more well-known figures who have stood as champions for the cannabis cause, including Jerry Garcia, Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Jimi Hendrix, and many more.

Avid readers and cannabis connoisseurs alike will have the option to purchase three different editions of the book. There’s the $42 Standard Edition, which includes a complimentary 2? Dimensional Cannabis pin; the $240 Collector’s Edition, which comes in a gold foil case wrap along with a mix of enamel pins, four-pack of stickers, art print on hemp paper; and finally the $420 Connoisseur Edition, featuring a wooden laser etched slipcase, pins, stickers, multiple works of art on hemp paper, an etched joint case, and more. The estimated delivery date for all three editions of the book is fall 2019.

Pre-order options and more information on Dimensional Cannabis can be found here.

Willie Nelson: The Facts of Life (and other Dirty Jokes)

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes
by Willie Nelson
Published by Random House in January 2002

They say writing the first line of a book is the hardest part. Thank God that’s over. Roger Miller said it must be true that the longer you live with your pet, the more you look alike. My neighbor came over this morning and chewed my ass out for shitting in his front yard. Thank you, Roger. I also have you to thank for the opening of my last book-“I didn’t come here and I ain’t leaving.”

My daughter Lana just asked me if I wanted a couple of ibuprofen. I said no, I save my pain for the show. We are in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a concert at Cains Ballroom, where Bob Wills and countless other great bands have performed in the last fifty years. The last time we were here, we had to move it to a larger place because of ticket sales, so we decided to do two days at Cains this time.

Lana, Kinky Friedman, and I are responsible for the contents of this endeavor, which is to be one-part song lyrics, one-part photographs, and ten-parts bullshit. That’s where I come in. I seem to be doing very well. I have ripped off my friend Roger twice already, bragged about how well we draw in Tulsa, and exposed my daughter Lana for offering me drugs before the show. How do you like me so far?

“You do know why you’re here?”

“Yes. There’s great confusion on earth, and the Power that is has concluded the following: Perfect man has visited earth already, and his voice was heard. The voice of imperfect man must now be made manifest, and I have been selected as the most likely candidate.”

“The time is april, therefore you, a taurus, must go. to be born under the same sign twice adds strength. this strength, combined with wisdom and love, is the key.”

Where’s the Show?/Let Me Be a Man
Explain to me again, Lord, why I’m here
I don’t know
I don’t know
The setting for the stage is still not clear
Where’s the show?
Where’s the show?
Let it begin, let it begin
I am born
Can you use me?
What would you have me do, Lord?
Shall I sing them a song?
I could tell them about you, Lord
I could sing of the loves I have known
I’ll work in their cotton and corn field
I promise I’ll do all I can
I’ll laugh and I’ll cry
I’ll live and I’ll die
Lord let me be a man
Please, Lord, let me be a man
And I’ll give it all that I can
If I’m needed in this distant land
Please, Lord, let me hold to your hand
Dear Lord, let me be a man
And I’ll give it all that I can
If I’m needed in this distant land
Please Lord, let me be a man

Lana, David Anderson, sister Bobbie, L.G., and Gates are regulars along with me on the bus, Honeysuckle Rose III. Ben Dorcy is not with us. Ben is now being preserved for trips in the near Austin area. At seventy-six-years young, he is cutting his world tours considerably. But for all the millions of Ben Dorcy fans, Ben is alive and well. Well, alive anyway. Thank you, Ben, for many years of faithful service and wisdom-“If you need a friend, buy a dog.” We’ll see you in Austin.

Cains Ballroom was good tonight. The crowd was loud, which I like. The girls were pretty, which I like, and the guys were friendly. I forgot the words to “Crazy” and that’s a first. Sammi Smith came by and sang “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Her son, Waylon, and Waylon’s dad, Jody Payne, joined in on “Hey, Good Lookin’ ” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Sammi’s still singing like an angel.

On the Road Again
On the road again
I just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin’ 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
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 turnin’ our way
And our way
Is on the road again
I just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin’ music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

I wrote this song on an airplane with Sydney Pollack and Jerry Shatzberg. We were talking about needing a song for the movie Honeysuckle Rose. Sydney was the producer and Jerry was the director. So I said, “What do you want the song to say?”

Sydney says, “Something about being on the road.”

“You mean something like, ‘On the road again, on the road again, I just can’t wait to be on the road again? The life I love is making music with my friends, I can’t wait to be on the road again?’ ” I said the words kinda bland I guess, maybe without any feeling or emotion.

Sydney and Jerry kinda stared at each other, and Sydney said, “But what about a melody?” I said, “I’ll come up with one before we get to the studio.”

At the time they were not that knocked out with the song. Of course they couldn’t hear the whole song like I could. They were very gentlemanly about the whole thing, not wanting to hurt my feelings and trying to act like they weren’t worried.

I think the more I talk about my hometown, Abbott, Texas, the better. Not only is it the only hometown I have, it is by far the most educational spot on the planet. I honestly believe I learned more in my first six years in Abbott than I’ve learned since. Smoking, drinking, and cussing are definitely three subjects in which I excelled.

Miss Brissler, our next-door neighbor, and my grandmother, Mama Nelson (who raised me and sister Bobbie from the time I was six months old), had already told us that if we drank beer, smoked cigarettes, and cussed, we were hell bound. At six years old I was well on my way. However, the first songs I remember singing were gospel songs. “Amazing Grace” was the first song I learned.

My first public appearance was in Brooken, Texas. We were at the annual Brooken Homecoming, with all-day singing and dinner on the ground. I was five years old. My poem was given to me by Mama Nelson to recite at the singing and performing part of “singing and dinner on the ground.” I guess I was nervous, because I started picking my nose until it started bleeding all over my little white sailor suit, trimmed in red. I did my poem . . .

What are you looking at me for?
I ain’t got nothing to say.
If you don’t like the looks of me
You can look the other way!
I have never had stage fright since.

There was always music in our home. My grandparents, Alfred and Nancy Nelson, were both musicians. They took music courses through the mail from the Chicago Music Institute. I could hear them at night practicing their music lessons. My grandfather, Daddy Nelson, was a voice teacher at one time, and they both knew a lot about music. We lived in a little house on the edge of Abbott, and I could hear every note they sang. I could also see the stars through the holes in the roof of that house. It was all very beautiful!

Soon after that time, I was given my first guitar. Up until then I had only written a few poems. Now I was able to learn to play guitar and write songs. It was a Sears and Roebuck Stella guitar. The strings were very high off the neck, so my fingers bled a lot. But they eventually got tough. Kinda like life . . .

My granddad used to sing:
Show me the way to go home
I’m tired and I want to go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago
And it went right to my head
Wherever I may go, and wherever I may roam
You’ll always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to go home

As you can see, I was getting a broad education.

Daddy Nelson was the kindest, wisest man I’ve ever known, unless it would be my dad, Ira. He never criticized a crazy thing I did. If my dad was ever mad at me, I never knew it. He would give me anything he had; money when he had it, advice anytime, plus he always kept my cars running like a clock. He was the best damn Ford mechanic that ever lived. Amen.

Me and sister Bobbie and some of the rest of the kids around Abbott, the Harwells and the Rajecks, we’d smoke anything that burned. We tried corn silks, cedar bark, coffee grounds, and grapevines before graduating to Bull Durham roll-your-own tobacco, and we did. That’s where I learned to roll and why I can roll a joint faster than any living person. And then along came ready-rolls. No wonder I’m short. As much as I smoked, I should have been four feet tall. Thank God I quit cigarettes before I got lung cancer. Unfortunately, a lot of my friends and loved ones kept smoking. My mother, dad, stepmother, stepdad, and one father-in-law all died of lung cancer caused by tobacco. No one knew just how bad smoking was for you back then. If I had known, I would have quit at that time. But we thought it looked cool, smart, hip. Everybody did it. All the movie stars, sports stars (well, not all, but some), were always seen with a cigarette hanging out of their mouths. I love sports, and think I would have done a lot better if I hadn’t been smoking cigarettes so early on in life, or not started at all.

As far as drinking is concerned, I had only tasted beer when I was six years old, but according to what I’d been taught, that was enough to send me straight to hell unless I repented and asked forgiveness. So I did, every Sunday, for a long time. The preacher asked those of us who wanted forgiveness to walk down the aisle. I went down morning and night for years. I took no chances. Amen.

I believe we need all of the words we have. So cursing, or “cussing” as we used to call it in Abbott, was part of carrying on a conversation. Of course not in my home, but all over everywhere else. We told jokes, and we recited limericks.

There once was a man from Boston
Who owned an American Austin
He had room for his ass and a gallon of gas
But his balls fell out and he lost them

Abbott humor was somewhere between white trash and redneck. All words were important to us. We believed in laughter above everything. We laughed at ourselves mostly.

We also loved to fight bumblebees in the summer months. The farmers down the road in Abbott would look for bumblebee nests while they were plowing and working in their fields. When they came into town, they would stop by Popps grocery store and leave word where we could find the nests. We would make our bumblebee paddles out of apple boxes. They looked like Ping-Pong paddles with holes in them to let the air through and to swing smooth. Many Sundays I would come home with both eyes swollen shut from the bee stings. Boy what fun!

By the way, if you’re ever stung by a bee, rub tobacco juice on it immediately. The pain goes away and it’ll heal much sooner. However, you’re still blind for a few days.

Another pastime in Abbott on Sundays, after bumblebee season, was placing an empty woman’s purse on the highway that ran between Waco and Dallas. We would tie a string to the purse, then drop the purse on the road and run to hide behind a billboard. A car would come by, the driver would see the purse and slide to a stop. We’d pull the string, retrieving the purse before the driver in the car could get back to it. They were most always real pissed.

This made our Sundays special.

We still have a home in Abbott. We bought the house Dr. Simms used to live in. He’s the doctor who delivered sister Bobbie and me. The house is about a quarter of a mile from where I was born. I go there when I can, and run and bike the same places again and again. They say you can’t go back. Maybe they can’t, but I can. Thank you, Abbott, for never changing.

“It’s a Long Story: My Life” — Willie Nelson

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

paperback

www.thecannabist.co
by: K. Shapiro

Marijuana is obviously having its most major moment. And with it comes an entirely new culture — one where it’s more acceptable than ever to wear weed on your sleeve. Here at The Cannabist, we are setting out to shine a light on those who define the style of cannabis culture — past or present, real or fictional. We’re looking to those who embody the spirit of what marijuana means, through art, music, fashion and film.

It is our honor to start this series on weed icons with the original outlaw, Willie Hugh Nelson (b. April 29, 1933; Abbot, Texas). In a recent Rolling Stone profile, Patrick Doyle dubbed him “one of America’s greatest songwriters, a hero from Texas to San Francisco, a hippie’s hippie and a redneck’s redneck.” We will also add that he’s a stoner’s stoner.

Willie Nelson’s new memoir goes on sale Tuesday, May 5.

In the book, Nelson also reflects on finding inspiration in the counterculture of the 1960s — the time when he first experienced and soon adopted the hippie lifestyle.

“I liked that (the kids) had courage to look and act any damn way they pleased,” he writes. “The new world represented by the Grateful Dead or the Jefferson Airplane was new only in appearance. (It) appealed to me because it was bold and creative and said to the world, ‘To hell with what you think. I’ll dress any way I please.’”

And he always has. Nelson’s signature style is anti-establishment, anti-fashion even. A black hat, bolo tie, cowboy boots (now New Balance), T-shirt and a bandana headband are all a part of Nelson’s enduring look. Oh, and the braids. Hell, they fetched $37,000 at auction in 2014. When classic cowboy is matched with rockstar authenticity — it’s inimitable. He doesn’t try, and he doesn’t have to. He’s just that fucking cool.

High fashion too, looks good on Nelson. Designer John Varvatos, who has a deep connection to music, celebrated Nelson’s style in his fall/winter 2013 advertising campaign featuring the star alongside his sons Lukas and Micah.

Watch Willie Nelson and family perform:

Soon you can channel the style of the inhaling icon. Plans are in the works to open“Willie’s Reserve” stores in 2016, which will carry his own strains of marijauna as well as like-minded products “reflective of his passion” in each recreationally legal state.

Willie Nelson: Just Plain Willie

Friday, July 13th, 2018

published: 1984

Willie Nelson Just Plain Willie Songbook

The Willie Nelson Just Plain Willie Songbook is a top-level instructional book for musicians wanting to learn how to play Willie Nelson music on guitar. This Hal Leonard release comes with a size of 9 x 12 inches and boasts a string of iconic songs, including Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, You Wouldn’t Cross The Street, Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Home Is Where You’re Happy, and more. Mr. Nelson is a bonafide icon of American music, and this book offers one of the best ways to get to know the man – through the power of music.

The great thing about this publication is that it will save you time from those long web searches and lets you pay attention to your playing, making your practice hours far more effective and efficient. The songs are presented in tab and notation form, all of which  are 100 percent accurate and concise. If extra info and details is needed, feel free to contact us online or just come down to the store, we are always glad to be of service. The full list of tunes is available below.

Song list:

* Always On My Mind
* And So Will You, My Love
* Any Old Arms Won’t Do
* Blame It On The Times
* Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
* Crazy
* End Of Understanding
* Everything But You
* Face Of A Fighter
* Healing Hands Of Time
* Home Is Where You’re Happy
* I Can’t Find The Time
* I Didn’t Sleep A Wink
* I Feel Sorry For Him
* I Hope So
* I Just Don’t Understand
* I Let My Mind Wander
* I’m Building Heartaches
* I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
* Is There Something On Your Mind
* Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
* Moment Isn’t Very Long
* My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
* One Step Beyond
* The Shelter Of Your Arms
* Slow Down Old World
* Some Other Time
* Stardust
* Suffering In Silence
* Things To Remember
* Undo The Right
* Up Against The Wall Redneck
* Why Are You Picking On Me
* Will You Remember Mine
* Without A Song
* You Wouldn’t Cross The Street
* You’ll Always Have Someone

This day in Willie Nelson history, “It’s a Long Story: My Life”, by Willie Nelson (May 5, 2015)

Saturday, May 5th, 2018