In 1999, Farm Aid ventured into the Washington D.C. area for the first time. The concert energized farmers and advocates and became a rallying point for a flurry of events. Hundreds of farmers came to Washington bearing an urgent message for legislators: “Act now to stop the destruction of family farms!”
Their primary target was the “Freedom to Farm” bill that had been in place since 1996. This bill had resulted in record profits for multinational grain traders and big food manufacturing companies while leaving family farmers bankrupt. The Farm Aid events inspired farmers to keep on fighting for fair prices and educated the public about important farm issues.
The concert aired live on CMT: Country Music Television for the second time. The stellar lineup included Susan Tedeschi, Keb’Mo’, Deana Carter, the Barenaked Ladies, Dave Matthews Band, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and others. The music was so good that it went on for an extra half hour!
On May 26, 2004, music video to Toby Keith and Willie Nelson song, ‘Beer For My Horses’ wins best video award at CBS’ 39th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay.
October 14, 2003
by Chris Neal
Like a lot of great country music tales, this one begins with whiskey. Willie Nelson and Toby Keith were on Willie’s bus, passing the bottle back and forth — to be precise, a bottle of Willie’s own signature brand, Old Whiskey River. They were having fun, but Toby had a serious question for his hero.
“I’ve got a project I’d love to talk to you about,” he offered. “It’s singing the second verse on a song that I think fits you like a glove.”
“What’s the name of it?” asked Willie. “Whiskey for My Men; Beer for My Horses,” replied Toby.
“Hell, let’s go cut it!” Willie exclaimed with a laugh. “It’d be hard to have a bad song with a title that good.”
Many months later, Willie’s judgment turned out to be right on. “Beer for My Horses” shot to No. 1 and stayed there for six weeks.
“Johnny Cash said one time that all that’s wrong with any of us can be cured with a No. 1 song,” said Willie. “And I think he was about right. I’m almost cured of everything.”
The ride actually began many years ago, way back in mid-Sept. 1976. Toby, then 15, made his way backstage when Willie was appearing in concert at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., as part of an “Outlaws” tour with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser.
At the time, Toby already idolized Willie, who was then riding high with the No. 1 Waylon duet “Good Hearted Woman” – a song Toby himself would sing with Willie months after Waylon’s death in 2002.
Toby still remembers meeting Willie that night, 27 years ago. “He was his usual polite self,” he smiles. “Willie is a real sweetheart. He takes care of everybody and wants everybody to have a piece of him.”
By the time they met again in the ‘90’s, Toby had followed in Willie’s footsteps to become a star himself. It happened that Toby’s guitarist, Joey Floyd, had played the part of Willie’s son in the 1980 movie Honeysuckle Rose, and still kept in touch. Joey made the introductions — and Toby and Willie’s friendship was off and running.
“I’d already heard his music before I met him,” recalls Willie. “I think he’s a great talent. He’s one of those guys coming along — well, I don’t know how young he is. Younger than me for damn sure.” (Toby is 42.)
“Probably the thing that ties us together most is the music,” says Toby. “But he’s got a great sense of humor, and so do I. We call each other all the time and tell our latest jokes, and we really have a good time when we’re hanging out.”
Perhaps the most notorious occasion the two spent “hanging out” was during this year’s ACM Awards. Tongues wagged after Toby was named entertainer of the Year at the evening’s end, but wasn’t around to accept it because he’d already left.
Where was he?
“I was up in my room, at the same hotel where the show was going on,” explains Willie. “I was watching it on TV. Next thing you know, there’s a knock on my door and there’s Toby. He said, “Hell, I ain’t gonna win.” I said, ‘OK, come in here and we’ll write a song or something.” So we got the whiskey bottle going around — again — and we were having some fun.”
“You can tell when it’s your night,” explains Toby, “And it didn’t feel like it was my night.”
So Toby figured that spending time with his friend and idol sounded better than waiting around to not win an award.
“That’s important to me, getting a chance to enjoy some of the stuff I grew up wanting to do,” he says. “But I did feel real bad when they said my name and “Entertainer of the Year.”
There’s always the upcoming CMAs, where “Beer for My Horses” is nominated for Single, Song, Vocal Event — and Music Video of the Year, for it’s imaginative clip featuring Willie and Toby as father and son police detectives chasing a killer.
The two are lining up tour dates together, including a New Year’s Eve show. Willie is currently making a new album with Toby’s producer, which will include at least one song Toby wrote. And both men say they’re reading and willing to duet again.
“I’ve had a lot of fun singing with Toby,” declares Willie. “He’s one of us.”
But one question remains: Do horses really like beer?
“Good God yeah” says Willie. “It’s got wheat, barley, corn — why wouldn’t a horse like it? It’s horse soup.”
In 2005 Willie Nelson joined Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey on a USO tour to entertain the troops overseas at the Ramstein Airbase in Germany. The show was filmed, and broadcast on television as “Nick and Jessica’s Tour of Duty.” Also on the tour: Big and Rich, and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. Willie and Jessica treated the crowd to a duet from movie ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’, the movie they starred in together, ‘These Boots are Made for Walking.”
Jimmey Kimmel talked about Willie at the show, and said, “I got to meet Willie Nelson. He’s such a nice guy, he even let me carry his bags through customs for him.!”
The first Austin City Limits Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place April 26, 2014. The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame is located at The Moody Theater and consists of a photo gallery, timeline/anthology mural and an interactive online library of Austin City Limits content.
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Willie Nelson was not an American icon.
In the early ‘70s, Nelson was best-known for writing hits for other people. The Abbott, Texas native had a successful career as a Nashville songwriter (“Crazy,” “Hello Walls,” “Night Life,” etc.) but had not yet achieved recognition under his own name. In 1974 all that would change. With the release of 1973’s Shotgun Willie and 1974’s Phases and Stages, two imaginative and successful LPs, the stage was set for his career to take off.
Then on October 17, 1974, Willie and his Family band entered Studio 6A to record the pilot for Austin City Limits. Broadcast as part of the national pledge drive in March 1975, the show was one of the top programs on PBS that year, securing a future for ACL as a series.
Willie has appeared on the show 16 times, with six headlining slots (most recently in 2009), seven songwriters specials and three guest appearances with Johnny Rodriguez, Roger Miller and Asleep at the Wheel. Not only is he the artist who launched Austin City Limits, he’s also one of our most frequent – and favorite – guests.
All of America watched as the Flood of ’93 left thousands of Midwest families homeless. Heavy rains caused the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to rise up and overflow their banks, swallowing entire towns along the way. Eight million acres of crops were destroyed and 20 million acres were damaged. With their backs already against the wall due to heavy debt and low farm prices, Midwest family farmers had few resources left to deal with the effects of the flooding.
In response to the flood, Farm Aid created the Family Farm Disaster Fund to support organizations that worked directly with farm families stricken by the flood. When farmers needed help to avoid foreclosure due to losses from the flood, Farm Aid-funded groups were there to help them save their farms.
The 1993 concert included performances by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, the Highwaymen, Sawyer Brown, Bruce Hornsby, Martina McBride, the Kentucky HeadHunters, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam, Ringo Starr, Waylon Jennings, Bryan Adams, Paul Simon, Travis Tritt, Ricky Van Shelton and many others.
On April 9, 2003, Willie Nelson hosted a birthday concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City, celebrating his 70’t birthday. The special aired on USA tv. He invited friends Paul Simon, Ray Price, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, ZZ Top, Leon Russell, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson and more.
On January 30, 2004, the movie “The Big Bounce”, opened.
Thank you, Mark, from Willie Nelson’s Museum and General Store, (www.WillieNelsonMuseum.com), for finding this gem, a still from the movie, “The Big Bounce” released in 2004, also starring Owen Wilson, Gary Sinese, Morgan Freeman, Charlie Sheen, Bebe Neuwirth, Harry Dean Stanton, Gregory Sporleder, Steve Jones, Director: George Armitage
on January 21, 1985: “Wanted: The Outlaws,” featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser, certifies double-platinum, along with the “Waylon & Willie” album.
In 1976, the album was the first country album to receive the new platinum certification, signifying one million units shipped.
My Heroes Have Always
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (Waylon)
Honky Tonk Heroes (Waylon)
I’m Looking for Blue Eyes (Jessi)
Suspicious Minds (Waylon and Jessi)
Good Hearted Woman (Waylon and Willie)
Heaven or Hell (Waylon and Willie
Me and Paul (Willie)
Yesterday’s Wine (Willie
T for Texas (Tompall)
Put Another Log on the Fire (Tompall)
It’s unfortunate that there still has to be a sampler, or primer, or golden book of some of the best singers working anywhere, but apparently not everyone has gotten the message yet. Maybe this album can introduce you to some people you would have liked to have known sooner but just didn’t have the opportunity to meet.
These are some special people, very special. They’ve been waiting in the wings for years, too many years, to assume their proper places in the structure of American Music. When it became apparent to them that their proper places were perhaps being unduly delayed becasue of certain resentments harbored against them because of their real and imagined unconventionality, they — by God — decided to take matters into their own hands. There resulted a rather difficult period of figurative doors being smashed and general confusion and namecalling in Nashville. When the smoke cleared and the fallout returned to earth, there was effected a major shift in country music. “Progressive Country” (for want of a better term) was on the map, and was here for good. And these are the people responsibile for that. Call them outlaws, call them innovators, call them revolutionaries, call them what you will. They’re just some damned find people who are also some of the most gifted songwriters and singers anywhere.
They are musical rebels, in one sense, in that they challenged the accepted way of doing things. Like all pioneers, they were criticized for that but time has vindicated them.
Tompall Glaser was one of the first in Nashville to chart his own musical course and it was lonely for him for years but now he is beginning to receive the recognition due him.
Waylon Jennings, as the most visible of the progressive country pack, has been quietly fighting for years in his own way for acceptance. Both he and Jessi Colter (who, coincidentally is also known as Mrs. Waylon Jennings) were authentically ahead of thier time. Now, the times have caught up with them.
That streak of rugged individualism that is the unifying bond for these musical outlaws is nowhere more evident than in Willie Nelson’s life and times. Unquestionably one of the finest songwriters who ever lived, Willie was known for years only to other writers and to a slowly growing cult of followers. All that has changed now. “Miracles appear in the strangest of places,” Willie sings in Yesterday’s Wine,” one of my favorites from his collection of remarkable songs, and that’s true. When I first started keeping track of Willie and Waylon and Jessi and Tompall, I (along with their other cult followers) felt almost responsible for them since they weren’t that well known to the public and the music industry as a whole didn’t like to acknowledge them. They didn’t wear Nudie suits and thier music didn’t confirm to the country norm of songs of divorce and alcohol and life’s other little miseries. The only thing that worried me was that I knew these people were born scrappers and really loved fighting for acceptance. What would happen to them, I wondered, when they inevitably won (as I knew they would)? Would they like so many who struggle just for the sake of the struggle, grow fat and lazy when they grew successful?
There was no need to worry. This last year each of them has gotten better, writing better, and singing with breathtaking confidence.
They’re the cutting edge of a brand of American music that I find the most satisfying development in popular music in the past decade. It’s not country and it’s not country-rock, but there’s no real need to worry about labeling it. It’s just damned good music that’s true and honest and you can’t ask for more than that.