Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving to Me”

Monday, February 6th, 2017

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

Willie Nelson contributes to “The Right Words at the Right Time,”

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

marlothomas

“If I had to break it down, I’d say about 99 percent of the people in my life were telling me I wasn’t going to make it.  All that adversity and lack of faith ended up just strengthening my own convictions.  All that negativity really helped me in the end, because there’s no better inspiration for doing something than having somebody say that you can’t do it.”

Willie Nelson
The Right Words at the Right Time, Marlo Thomas and Friends
2002

Willie: A memoir as straight forward as his songs

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

[Thanks again to Phil Weisman, for sending me this newspaper clipping/review.  The Chicago Sun-Times gave over 1/2 page to the photo and review.]

Chicago Sun Times
Sunday, November 6, 1988
by: Don McLeese

Willie
An Autobiography
Willie Nelson and Bud Shrake

With his autobiography, Willie Nelson not only gets the chance to set the record straight, he offers the same opportunity to his ex-wives.  Take, for example, the fabled incident from his first marriage in which his wife was so upset at finding him drunk again that she sewed him up between two bed sheets and proceeded to whack him out of his stupor with a broom handle.

Ridiculous, says Martha Jewel Mathews, who became Willie’s first wife when she was just 16.  “How dumb could I have to be to try to sew Willie into a bed sheet?” she asks in one of the book’s “Chorus” sections, which allow many of those who share Nelson’s life to give their side of the story.  “You know how long that would take to sit there and take stitch after stitch?”

“The truth is, I tied him up with the kids’ jumping ropes before I beat the hell out of him.”

Written with Bud Shrake (a former writer with Sports Illustrated and Nelson’s collaborator on the “Songwriter” film), Willie is not one of those show-biz sagas that is designed to reinforce an image, to celebrate the myth while sanitizing the man.  Neither is it a titilatting “tell-all” account, using scandal to boost sales.  As straightforward in its honesty as the best of Nelsons songs, the book offers a matter-of-fact, refreshingly frank account of how Willie Nelson came to be what he is, and how he feels about what he has become.

What he is, although he’s too modest in Willie to make the claim himself, is the greatest artist that country music has known since the late Hank Williams.  He’s also something of a sagebrush mystic, a believer in “reincarnation and the laws of Karma,” an environmentalist, an avid golfer, a long-distance jogger, a guy who gets along great with women until he marries them, and a firm believer in the medicinal powers of marijuana.

As an account of this life (Nelson apparently doesn’t remember much from previous incarnations), Willie doesn’t adhere to strict chronology, but most of the pertinent facts are here.  It relates his musical beginnings as a cotton-picking, mud-eating child who played guitar at 6, considered himself a “serious songwriter” at 8 and was a veteran at 11 of the polka-band circuit in small town Texas.

It shows his emergency as a hit songwriter, though his early efforts often proved more lucrative for others than they were for Nelson himself.  He sold all rights to “Night Life,” which has since been recorded by more than 70 artists, for $150.  “At the time he needed the money,” he explains, and the fact that the song was a hit “encouraged me to think I could write a lot more songs that were just as good.”

The country music establishment in Nashville never came to terms with Nelson’s artistry.  Though his “Crazy” was a smash for Patsy Cline, and “Hello Walls” did as well for Faron Young.  Nelson’s music had a sophistication beyond three chords, and his singing was too down-home conversational.  Eventually, Nelson returned to Texas, where he was branded an “outlaw” for following his own best instincts.

He has since progressed from barroom stages to stadium concerts, and now travels on his own Learjet, as well as by bus, while continuing to follow his own instincts.  The mythic “Red Headed Stranger”, a musical fable about frontier justice, was an unlikely candidate for mainstream acceptance, but it gave Nelson his popular breakthrough.  His record company advised against his “Stardust” collection of standards, and it won him a larger audience than ever.

In addition to offering plenty of advice beyond the usual bromides for those bent on a musical career, the autobiography documents the spiritual development of the man known to much of Texas as “Saint Willie.”  An inspiring as his progression from honky-tonk hotheadedness to metaphysical bliss may be there’s no question that Nelson’s contentment has cost him some musical creativity.

He admits that he writes from need, from hunger, and he maintains that for him to return to writing a “sad, negative song” would be bad karma.  Leaving songs of whiskey-drenched heartbreak behind, he finds it easier to record duets with the likes of Julio Iglesias.

The “Chorus” sections provide a more rounded portrait of the artist than most autobiographies offer, but the book would be even better balanced if it featured someone who isn’t just wild about Willie.  (His third wife, from whom Nelson is estranged, isn’t included within the interviews.  However as furious they might once have been at him, his ex-wives remain fond of Nelson; his friends from the scuffling days are still his friends; his band and business associates are unwaveringly loyal.

Even a man whose wife ran away with Nelson (to become the second Mrs. Nelson) proclaims that “IF there’s any man I’d like to run off with my wife, it would be WIllie Nelson.”

 

 

Willie Nelson at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Came to Austin for the Willie Nelson & Family Shows at the Moody Theater; Nice of Willie to meet me at the airport — at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.   In the bookstore, anyway. 

“Pretty Paper” Roy Orbison

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

“Pretty Paper” is a song written by country music singer-songwriter Willie Nelson in 1963. After being signed to Monument Records, Nelson played the song for producer Fred Foster. Foster pitched the song to Roy Orbison, who turned it into a hit. Nelson recorded his own version of the song in November 1964.

Written by Willie Nelson, the song tells the story of a street vendor who, during the holiday season, sells pencils and paper on the streets.   In October 1963, while walking in his farm in Ridgetop, Tennessee, Nelson was inspired to write the song after he remembered a man he often saw while he lived in Fort Worth, Texas. The man had his legs amputated and moved with rollers, selling paper and pencils in front of Leonard’s Department Store. To attract the attention of the people, the man announced, “Pretty paper! Pretty paper!”

In 2013, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram identified the man as Frankie Brierton, of Santo, Texas. Brierton refused to use a wheelchair, choosing instead to crawl, as he learned to move while growing up after his legs were affected by a spinal disorder. Brierton sold pencils in Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston.

Willie Nelson, along with David Ruiz, incorporated the song’s story into a book.

Santa Willie Delivers a "Pretty" Holiday Tale

Blue Rider Press

Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale

By Willie Nelson with David Ritz
Blue Rider Press, 304 pp., $23

Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue
Wrap your presents to your darling from you
Pretty pencils to write “I love you”
Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue

 

Willie Nelson, “Pretty Paper”

Monday, December 12th, 2016

www.WillieNelson.com

Willie Nelson, “Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale” (with David Ritz)

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Santa Willie Delivers a "Pretty" Holiday Tale

Blue Rider Press

www.houstonpress.com

Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale
By Willie Nelson with David Ritz
Blue Rider Press, 304 pp., $23

Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue
Wrap your presents to your darling from you
Pretty pencils to write “I love you”
Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue

In 1963, Willie Nelson wrote “Pretty Paper,” one of the more unusual holiday standards of recent times. It was a hit for Roy Orbison that year, and Nelson also cut a version. But most fans today are familiar with the later recording for Nelson’s own 1979 Christmas album of the same name.

Amazingly, it’s based on Nelson’s real-life memory of a man who did just that outside of Leonards Department Store in Fort Worth, where he was living at the time.

In this easy-to-digest book, Nelson and Ritz (who co-wrote the singer’s autobiography) have fleshed out the story into a holiday tale, mixing fact with fiction with utterly charming and page-turning results.

The narrative follows two interspersed stories: One, that of “Willie Nelson,” a struggling country singer who meets the vendor and is intrigued by him and his background. The other is the text of a purported diary of the legless man, “Vernon Clay,” who has his own story of triumph and tragedy (well, lots of tragedy) to relate about his own career as a country singer/songwriter years before.

When Vernon disappears and Willie is given the diary to read, he makes it a personal quest to unravel the mystery of Clay’s life and how he ended up in his current circumstances, and get him what he’s due as a songwriter and performer.

Those who know something of Nelson’s actual life in music will be greatly amused by the portions that touch on reality. Willie’s band mate “Brother Paul” is a grim, gun-toting musician clad in a black cape and round hat who bears, oh, more than a little resemblance to his own drummer of 50-plus years, Paul English (who really did occasionally brandish a weapon to get the band paid their fees).

Trigger

Monday, December 5th, 2016

“One of the secrets to my sound is almost beyond explanation.  My battered old Martin guitar, Trigger, has the greatest tone I’ve ever heard from a guitar — and I’ve played a lot of guitars, including a lot of other Martins that were the exact same model as Trigger.

A lot of the guys in the band have been with me for decades, but Trigger has outlated every musician I’ve played with, and after all these years, I have come to believe we were fated for each other.

The two of us even look alike.  My musician pals haven’t carved and written their names on me the way they have on Trigger, but we’re both pretty bruised and battered.

The holes I’ve worn in Trigger are from my pick zinging up and down a million times on the face of an acoustic guitar that’s not supposed to be played with a pick, but at this point those holes are part of what makes Trigger sound exactly right.

I also play other guitars, of course, including a black electric Fender during the blues numbers on our show, but Triggers as much a part of my sound as the way I play.

If I picked the finest guitar make this year and tried to play my solos exactly the way you heard them on the radio or even at last night’s show, I’d always be a copy of myself and we’d all end up bored.  But if I play the instrument thta is now a part of me, and do it according to the way that feels right for me — in each place and time — then I’ll always be an original.

At the very least, I know it won’t get boring.”

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

Willie Nelson, “Pretty Paper”

Monday, November 28th, 2016

www.WillieNelson.com

“Still is Still Moving to Me”, by Willie Nelson

Friday, November 25th, 2016

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 didnt 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, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” published (11/13/12)

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Willie Nelson’s book, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” was published on November 13, 2015.

www.cmt.com
Nashville Skyline
Chet Flippo

Willie Nelson’s new memoir is largely episodic, made up of randomMusings From the Road, as the book’s subtitle reads. In many ways, it reads like cloudy memories and sudden observations churned up during a dreamy, long, twilight reverie fueled by thick clouds of fragrant ganja smoke.

The fully-titled Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die also includes many photographs from over the years. Many of these are also dreamlike images and have never been published before.

The book itself is slim and modest, perhaps 6 by 9 inches, even in hardback, and — at only 175 pages long — is almost the size of a prayer book. I’m sort of surprised that this book wasn’t published on special rolling papers bound into a deluxe hemp folder.

It is best read episodically, a tiny bit at a time, rather than being absorbed in one rapid gulp. Small bites are good, like nibbles of popcorn during a leisurely, slow-paced movie.

By now, so many decades into his fabled life and career, Willie fans pretty much know what to expect from him. And he does not let his readers down with his Musings From the Road.

Kinky Friedman’s foreword to the book also does not disappoint. In summing up Willie’s abandonment of Nashville for Texas, he writes, “Willie told the Nashville music establishment the same words Davy Crockett had told the Tennessee political establishment: ‘Y’all can go to hell — I’m going to Texas.’”

Willie’s voice in the book is that of a gentle and knowing, but aging wise-ass. With a sense of humor. Here’s one of his jokes I can repeat here:

“A drunk fell out of a second-floor window. A guy came running up and asked, ‘What happened?’ The drunk said, ‘I don’t know. I just got here.’”

This amounts to a surprisingly succinct account of Willie’s life and career, told through his remembrances and sections told by his wife, children, other relatives, his band and many of his friends. And also many of the lyrics to his songs. It amounts to a scrapbook summary of his childhood, his adulthood, his family, his band and his life in music.

He begins with memories of a happy childhood in Abbott, Texas, where he and sister Bobbie were raised by their grandparents after their parents more or less went their own way. They grew up in an atmosphere of love, the church and music. Bobbie is still in Willie’s band and cooks for him on the bus. They return to Abbott as often as possible.

Willie recalls he began drinking and smoking at age 6. He would gather a dozen eggs, take them to the grocery store and trade them for a pack of Camel cigarettes. He preferred Camels, because he liked the picture of the camel on the pack. “After all, I was only 6. They were marketing directly to me!”

He became addicted to both cigarettes and drinking and finally kicked both habits — especially after his lungs began hurting — and traded them for a life of weed. After he was busted in Texas for weed, he formed the Teapot Party, which advocates legalization and he writes quite a bit about that in the book. He has, he writes, lost many friends and relatives to cigarettes and alcohol, but he knows of no marijuana fatalities.

He is happiest now, he writes, in his house’s hideout room on Maui, which his brother-in-law named “Django’s Orchid Lounge.” The “Orchid Lounge” part, of course, is obvious, from the Nashville beer joint where Willie got his Nashville start. “Django” is from the great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, whom Willie feels is the greatest guitarist of all time. Ray Price, by the way, is Willie’s choice for the greatest country singer of all time.

Willie loves to sit in his Django’s Orchid Lounge and play dominoes and poker and chess with many of his Maui friends and such visitors as Ziggy Marley and Woody Harrelson while wife Annie cooks for everyone.

In addition to the photographs, Willie’s son, Micah, contributes several drawings.

Since the book is episodic, I can be, too. Here is my favorite self-description by Willie: “I have been called a troublemaker a time or two. What the hell is a troublemaker? you ask. Well, it’s someone who makes trouble; that’s what he came here to do, and that’s what he does, by God. Like it or not, love it or not, he will stir it up. Why? Because it needs stirring up! If someone doesn’t do it, it won’t get done, and you know you love to stir it up. … I know I do.”

Listen carefully to the music and the words of Willie. He is one of the few true giants to inhabit country music, and — when he and his few remaining fellow giants are gone — there’ll be no live artists remaining to remind the world of the true truth and majesty of great country music.

“Willie Nelson Picnic Posters and Picnic History,” a Dave Thomas Guide

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

davet

I’m happy to have a copy of Dave Thomas’ history of Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnics and  learning more about Willie’s annual summer music celebrations.  He really brings the picnic to life with stories and pictures of posters from the past 40 plus years.  It brings back great memories for fans lucky enough to be there,and enjoyable  for new fans just learning about the Picnics.  It’s  an amazing list of artists that have played the event over the years.   Some of the picnic posters are very  rare.

PREFERRED*** Alicia Mireles/ Austin American-Statesman 04/30/08 Mug of staffer Dave Thomas for a blog.

“About halfway between attending my first Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic in 1995 and my 17th in 2015, I became obsessed with chronicling the history of Willie’s Picnic and collecting Picnic posters.”

— Dave Thomas

I’ve been following Dave Thomas’ year-by-year  reports on Willie Nelson’s picnic concerts for years in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.  Each year the paper’s music blog Austin360.com publish a slideshow with Dave’s collections and stories about the Picnic’s history.  In his new book, he includes pictures of posters, along with a brief story about each year’s picnic.  It’s very informative and fun to read.  You will learn a lot, even if you’ve been to lots of picnics or if you have never been and are a fan of Texas music.

picnicposter

There is an extra section on Steve Brooks, a Dallas artist known for his work with Willie Nelson & Family in the 1980’s.  Steve designed many concert posters, as well as holiday posters.  Dave’s book includes some of Steve’s artwork and puzzles portraying Willie’s 4th of July picnic, too.

This book’s a great gift – for another fan, or for yourself.

You can get your copy here.

Or if you don’t like e-bay, you can e-mail Dave Thomas and make another arrangement, at davetx@austin.rr.com.

 

Image result for dave Thomas willie nelson's picnic poster book

 

Willie Nelson: “Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale”

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

prettypretty

www.penguinrandomhouse.com

Get your copy here.

“It feels good to be out there” — Willie Nelson

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

tao

The Tao of Willie
A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart
by Willie Nelson and Turk Pipkin

“Most of the members of my family band have been playing with me for over thirty years.  No one has an exact tally as to the number of shows we’ve put on, but it might be in the neighborhood of ten thousand.  We’ve played everything from two-bit shit holes to 100,000-seat stadiums, and maybe twenty million people have heard me sing with my family band.

Even after all those shows, it feels good to be out there playing with family for all our friends.  As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got a lot of friends.  I’m still knocked out by all the people at the show, and the mix of the crowd is part of what I like best about it.  We get lots of young people, plus we get lots of older folks who have been listening to my music for a long time.

The last couple of summers, we’ve been touring minor-league baseball parks with Bob Dylan.  That keeps us out of the corporate amphitheaters and it brings a lot of families to the shows.  The best part is that kinds under twelve get in free. How great is that? When I look out there and see three or four generations from one family boogieing and be-bopping to the music, the good feelings I get make the long drive to tomorrow night’s show a hundred miles shorter.  At least that’s the way it feels.

Gator and L.C. may be driving the bus, bu it’s the audiences that move it down the highway.

So when people ask why I still go out there and sing every night that I can, the answer is simple.  because I enjoy it.  I’ve got the audience I’ve always dreamed of, and I like playing music with the greatest musicians in the world.  Add it up, and the result is I get entertained every night my own self.

Besides, if I’m not out there on the concert stage, I’m probably picking for free at Poodies in Austin, so I might as well do it where I’ll get paid.  Otherwise I might have to teach Sunday school for a living.

The Tao of Willie
by Willie Nelson with turk Pipkin

Willie Nelson at ACL Fest (Oct. 9, 2016)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

turkky

www.huffingtonpost.com
by: Turk Pipkin

A few years ago, when Willie and I were writing our book The Tao of Willie, I felt that many people would be referring back to the book over the coming years to get a fresh dose of Willie’s Baptists/Buddhist outlook on life (“Bootist” as Willie called it). But I’m not sure I realized that I’d be one of those readers, coming back again and again to Willie’s words in our book during my own times of need.

First the concert. Sunday was a beautiful day at Zilker Park. As I looked out from the stage at 75,000 fans and blue skies smiling at me, Matthew McConnaughey came onstage to intro Willie, and the roar from the crowd was the loudest I’ve ever heard at an Austin show, at least until the roar for Willie one minute later. I have no idea how many Willie shows I’ve seen – a couple of hundred or more – and somehow every show still ends up being fresh and amazing in wonderful ways.

turkky2
Matthew McConnaughey introduces Willie to 70,000 at ACL Fest in Austin

Last night was much more than that. The joy and connections Willie puts out from the stage are always palpable but for his first ACL fest show in years, 83-year-old Willie was in fine voice (as good as I’ve heard in a very long time), in beautiful spirit (practically shining) and playing Trigger like the true rock-n-roll/country/blues/jazz Zen master than he is. Eight (?) years ago at Willie’s last ACL fest appearance, I stood next to the late, great Willie road manager Poodie Locke, and Poodie and I talked about the magic of Willie and how it all comes together when it needs to.

Last night, I thought about Poodie’s spirit floating around that stage, about the spirit and love of Bee Spears and other Willie family band members that have moved on, and I thought how their spirits are part of what makes the ongoing family band so wonderful and strong and full of love. Consider Sister Bobby, still sounding great and looking beautiful at her giant grand piano, despite the fact that she and her little brother Booger Red, aka Willie, have been playing music together for nearly 80 years.

I was particularly taken with Willie’s ACL version of “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”, and thought of all the people I’ve met for whom this song has great meeting (if you have any biker friends, ask them what Hell’s Angels think the song is about).

“I make it a point not to disagree with any of the interpretations,” said Willie in our little book, “as long as you’re not trying to sell your junk food or your god or your war with my song. It’s not up to me to tell you what my songs mean. The meaning is already in the song. And the song is the meaning.”

Later in the book, we came back to “Angels”, a little like how Willie keeps coming back to “On the Road Again” in his concert. Here’s a clip of Willie’s ACL version:

“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” IS the Tao of Willie,” he wrote (or we wrote, anyway this is all from the book.) “It and a whole bunch of other songs I’ve written are the reflection of what I’ve learned on a really great ride on the merry go round called Earth.”

I felt blessed to experience the ACL show from the sound board, with a great view and surrounded by a huge audience that was soaking up the love, and I was moved to tears as I watched how Willie soaked it all in.

Here’s another passage from our little book, in Willie’s voice, as is the entire book except for my short introduction.

“Sometimes in my concerts, I find that I’ve slipped outside of myself to the same place that I find in meditation. Like the audience, I can see myself on stage. I can see my band behind me and all around me. I can see Poodie and David Anderson in the wings, and Budrocks and Bobby Lemmons, Josh the sound guy on the light and sound boards. All of us are connected to each other and to the audience, and whether we’re all caught up in “Angel Flying to Close to the Ground, or just rocking through “Whiskey River” for the third time of the night, that’s the kind of moment that keeps me coming back on the road again and again. In that moment, I see myself, my family band, and the audience — all of us are a part of one joyful whole.

It’s like the eye of a hurricane, I’m connected to everything.”

Towards the end of his set, I saw Willie pause a little longer than usual between songs and watched him look from face to face in the front rows then lift his gaze up and up to the crowd that seemed to stretch all the way to the sun setting in the beautiful hills he calls home. There was a long history of music and musicians in Austin before Willie, but much of what is great about this city’s love of music and film and arts flows stems from forty-plus years ago when Willie decided he didn’t want to be what Nashville wanted him to be, he wanted to come home to Texas and be himself.

Looking out at the crowd at Zilker, Willie didn’t seem to want to end his set at all. If Mumford and Sons hadn’t been coming up later, he might still be playing.

“I didn’t come here,” Willie is fond of saying, “And I ain’t leaving.”

I’ve known Willie for much of the time he’s been in Austin. In the 70s, I was fortunate to be his opening act on Auditorium Shores not far from Zilker Park, and Christy was a producer at the 1990 Willie picnic in Zilker Park, one of those 105 degree marathon concert days when you wish you were dead and thank God that you’re alive to see it all. We made some movies together and played a lot of golf and poker, all times that I loved and still love, but what I cherish most is the way Willie helped open my heart to the world, and how Willie (and Annie who is a great, and tireless rock of support and inspiration as well) enabled Christy and I to do more with our lives by believing in us and supporting out idea that individuals and couples who want to change the world and are willing to work for their vision can have great impact. There are countless others out there like Christy and me.

If nothing else, Willie helps us know who we are.

So once more from The Tao of Willie, this time from end of the book, Willie’s words again, taken from my journals and scraps of paper where I had noted things Willie said to me over the years.
“Since we know so little of the whole, it’s all the more important to know yourself. That brings us to the last question, the question that will best start your day, possibly every day, of your life.

The question is, “Who am I?”

Within the answer to that question is the thing we call happiness.

As for myself, I am just a troubadour going down the road, learning my lessons in this life so I will know better next time. I believe the lessons are out there waiting to be found, and waiting inside me to be found as well.

As the miles and miles of miles and miles roll by, I try to listen to the voice inside me as it offers advice, tells tales and whispers the melody to what will be my next song.

Depending on the time of day, and what’s been bouncing around in my life, those voices may not always be in my best interest. If an inner voice says, “Tell Gator to stop the bus on the next overpass so I can determine whether I can fly or not,” then I’ll probably have a cup of coffee and choose to listen to some other voice.

I like it when the other voice reminds me that I am the luckiest man on earth, that I am surrounded by a very large family of people I love and whom I love, and that as long as my body and this bus will carry me, I can step on stage and lift my heart in song that will carry me and my audience through the worst that life has to offer.

Knowing this may not spare me from the sorrows of life and the troubles of the world, but together — myself, my family and my friends and fans — we use that common song in our hearts to carry on.

In the end, all of us are just angels flying close to the ground.

Returning to the words of Kahil Gibran that I first read so many years ago, I am reminded that in our quest to return to God, each of us, in our heart, carries a map to that quest, a map that is made of love.

Love is what I live on. Love is what keeps me going.

So all I can say to you is what I’ve said to myself a thousand times.
“Open your heart, Willie, and give love a try. You’ll be amazed at what happens.”
So far, it’s worked pretty well.”

Thank you Willie. In this crazy election year, I think we could all use a little move love. And a lot more people voting.