Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Willie Nelson in Parade Magazine (6/27/10)

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Parade Magazine
Sunday, June 27, 2010
By Dotson Rader

‘Since I was a kid, music was what I wanted to do,” Willie Nelson says. “I thought I could make it by my own talents. That’s what I wanted to prove.”
It is a hot, sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, and Willie sits at a table in his tour bus, the Honey-suckle Rose IV. Fitted out like a two-bedroom yacht on wheels, the vehicle is powered by biodiesel from his own alternative-fuel company, Biowillie.

“When I was about 12,” he says, “I had my first paying gig—$8 to play rhythm guitar in a polka band. Pretty soon, I ended up playing in all the bars within driving distance of Abbott, Tex.”

Abbott is the rural town in east–central Texas where Willie grew up dirt-poor during the Depression. By 6, he was writing songs and playing the guitar. Now 77, he’s still at it, touring on his fancy bus 200 days a year, playing to sold-out clubs and stadiums. This month, he and wife Annie, 50, will travel to Austin, Tex., for the annual Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic. The picnic is his Woodstock, with a hillbilly twang.

“I started it in 1973 to bring together different kinds of people, and that’s still what we do,” Willie says. It’s gotten bigger over the years, attracting rock bands, folk singers, rappers, and country stars who perform before as many as 20,000 music lovers of all ages, beliefs, and races. The event, just like the man himself, is a uniquely, magnificently American phenomenon. “It’s people drinking beer, smoking pot, and finding out that they have things in common and don’t really hate each other,” Willie says. “Music gives people a chance to enjoy something together.”
He sits with his elbows on the table, mellow and relaxed. He smiles a lot, and his deeply lined face is dominated by serene brown eyes. “A lot of country music is sad,” he notes softly. “I think most art comes out of poverty and hard times. It applies to music. Three chords and the truth—that’s what a country song is. There is a lot of heartache in the world.”

Willie has known his share of it. Three failed marriages, a son who committed suicide, troubles with the IRS, drug busts. “Anybody can be unhappy,” he says. “We can all be hurt. You don’t have to be poor to need something or somebody. Rednecks, hippies, misfits—we’re all the same. Gay or straight? So what? It doesn’t matter to me. We have to be concerned about other people, regardless.”
He is famously dedicated to helping others, giving away his own time and money, raising millions of dollars for small farmers and victims of natural disasters, war, and AIDS. Among his efforts are Farm Aid and the Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute. He is known as a soft touch. “I don’t like seeing anybody treated unfairly,” he says. “It sticks in my craw. I hold on to the values from my childhood.”
His was a tough and unpromising childhood. “I was 6 months old and my sister Bobbie was 3 years old when my parents divorced and gave us to my grandparents,” he recalls. (Bobbie, 79, his only sibling, plays piano in his band.) “I have no anger about my parents. They did us a favor. My grandparents were very reliable Christian people who gave us a good raising.”

At 2, Willie began going into the hot, unforgiving cotton fields with his grandmother. “I was too young to pick, so I’d ride on her sack,” he says. “She’d pull me on it, picking cotton, filling it up, making me a soft bed to ride on. The sack would start out empty, and before the morning was out, there would be 60, 70 pounds of cotton in it. Then, still just a little bitty kid, I got old enough to pull my own sack. As I got older, the sacks got bigger.”
When he was 6, his granddad died, and the family’s financial situation worsened. His grandmother took a job for $18 a week as a cook at the school cafeteria. “I worked there, too, carrying out the garbage to pay for me and Bobbie’s lunches.” Still, he recalls, “It wasn’t humiliating. Nobody else had anything to speak of in Abbott. I don’t remember ever going hungry.”

Willie was a good student and athlete, a popular kid, but he felt the pull of music and the tug of faraway places. “I saw Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies every weekend,” he says. “They were my heroes. Riding my horse, shooting my gun, singing my songs, playing my guitar—that’s what I wanted to do.”

Following high school graduation, Willie joined the Air Force. The Korean War was on, and he was broke. “I joined because I knew that for four years, I wouldn’t starve to death,” he explains. “A lot of people joined up for that reason. I don’t think things have changed much in the world since.”
Willie served nine months before receiving a medical discharge due to back injuries. At 19, he married Martha Matthews, a beautiful 16-year-old. “I was always a sucker for long-black-haired women,” he admits. They quarreled, brawled, drank heavily, and had two daughters, Lana and Susie, and a son, Billy. Willie tried college but left after a year. He kept writing songs and playing music and also worked as a radio DJ, a door-to-door salesman, and a plumber. After 10 contentious years, his marriage collapsed.

In 1960, Willie went to Nashville and experienced his first big success—as a songwriter. He wrote “Crazy,” “Pretty Paper,” “Hello Walls,” and hundreds more, becoming one of America’s best composers of popular song. Overall, he has recorded over 300 albums that have sold more than 50 million copies and performed with the full range of the nation’s musical talent, from Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, and Merle Haggard to Frank Sinatra, Bob Dyla-n, Dolly Parton, Norah Jones, and Snoop Dogg. His newest CD, Country Music, is hauntingly beautiful.
Willie married singer Shirley Collie in 1963, but the next year he began an affair with Connie Koepke, who was just two years out of high school. He and Collie divorced, and he wed Koepke in 1971. Their 16-year marriage produced daughters Amy and Paula and brought him and his family back to his home state. “I really felt like I needed to be in Texas,” he says, “playing to the people that were and still are my base.”
His fourth wife, Annie D’Angelo, entered his life as the make-up artist on the set of the 1986 film Stagecoach, co-starring Johnny Cash. (Willie has made 31 movies, few of them memorable.) He and Annie wed in 1991. Their marriage works, because, “well, I now understand a lot more than I did,” Willie says. “I’m not easy to live with. I’m pretty temperamental, you know. I’ve been used to doing things my own way for so long that I’m not interested in any suggestions. There was friction with my other wives. But it seems like Annie and I did okay with each other. It takes a special person to live with me.

“I’ve got great wives, great kids, great grandkids,” he boasts. “Both my sons, Micah and Lukas, are doing well.” (Jacob Micah, 20, and Lukas Autry, 21, are his children with Annie.) “Micah’s at college and has a band, The Reflectables. Lukas has a band, too, The Promise of Real.” Willie chuckles at those names. “Lukas has opened for Bob Dylan and B.B. King, so he’s doing really well.  He’s also opened for me a few times, and he will again.”
Beyond aging, the reason Willie offers for his being easier to live with is his cutting down on liquor while increasing his intake of cannabis. He is an outspoken proponent of marijuana and strongly opposes hard drugs like meth and cocaine.
“Legalize weed,” he declares. “It’s 50% of what’s causing the problems along the border with the drug cartels. A lot of people who sell it want to keep it illegal because that’s where the money is. The cartels are now in hundreds of our cities, growing and selling weed. Legalize it, and it would stop all that immediately.

“There are many bands that are not here anymore because of the drugs and alcohol,” he adds. “I know a lot of singers who have ruined their careers drinking and drugging.”

Willie and his family have also suffered through the devastating consequences of drug addiction. His son Billy hanged himself on Christmas Day, 1991, at 33. He had been in and out of rehab for substance abuse, and his death was the worst event of Willie’s life. I ask about Billy.
“Death is not the ending of anything,” Willie says quietly. “I believe all of us are only energy that becomes matter. When the matter goes away, the energy still exists. You can’t destroy it.It never dies. It manifests itself somewhere else.” He pauses. “We are never alone. Even by ourselves, we are not alone. Death is just a door opening to somewhere else. Someday we’ll know what that door opens to.”

Willie smiles at me, looking impossibly tranquil, even beatific. “I believe that,” he affirms. “I really do.”

Willie Nelson going strong (Interview, Esquire Magazine)

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

photo:  David McClister
by:  Jeff Slate

Willie Nelson may be 84, but he’s still going strong. He’s released a clutch of excellent albums this decade, including Heroes, which featured a superb version of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” a fantastic tribute to his friend Ray Price, God’s Problem Child, from earlier this year, and his latest, Willie and the Boys: Willie’s Stash, Vol. 2, which teams him up again with family, this time his sons Lukas and Micah—and he keeps up a relentless touring schedule that would make any artist half his age blush.

 But with all the accomplishments in his long and storied career, at the moment Nelson seems most proud of Willie’s Reserve, his own line of legal cannabis products.

“It’s time has come,” he tells me, with great joy in his voice.

Long a proponent of marijuana use, Nelson is also blunt about why you should consider his brand over the competition. “I know what I’m talking about,” he says, with a chuckle. “Why wouldn’t you trust me that I know what’s good stuff? They say my stash is legendary for a reason.”

The country legend talked to about what keeps him active, how the music industry has changed (and how it hasn’t), and, of course, the stash he’s very proud of.

Willie and his sons tackle some classic country on the new album—including several tunes by Hank Williams—because he wants you to love those songs as much as he does.

I sort of compare this album to the old Stardust album that I did many years ago, where I did a lot of the old pop standards on there that people of your age, including the country audience, had never heard before. I enjoy the old standards, whether it’s Hank Williams or Hoagie Carmichael. I never get tired of those lyrics and the melodies. So I felt once people had heard the songs on Stardust they’d like them, and I kind of felt the same way about this album.

Like his days with the supergroup The Highwaymen, Willie says it’s the camaraderie and quality that keeps him going.

It’s amazing to have my kids on the stage with me. The fact that they are good, that helps a lot, too. [Laughs] But if I wasn’t good they’d kick me off! Though there might be a little fight! [Laughs] But me and the boys are very close now. We play golf together, we play music together, chess, we vacation together. We have a place over in Maui that we like to go and hang out at. We’re just a pretty close family. The fact that we play music together, it’s just double the pleasure.

A good song is a good song, even if it’s by Coldplay.

That is a good song. I thought it was funny that anybody thought that I could do a song called “The Scientist” to begin with! [Laughs] I felt like that was a stretch of somebody’s imagination. But when I heard the song I realized, “Hey, this is a good song.”

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Willie’s secret sauce? A great producer. Plus more than a dash of Willie Nelson.

It has a lot to do with the producer, the sound you get. Danny Lanois is great, and now I work with Buddy Cannon. They all bring something very different to the project. But ultimately it sounds like me, or I hope it does. But I do like to challenge myself, and I’m lucky to work with these guys. In fact, I’m getting ready to do a Sinatra tribute album with Buddy, and I also I want to do an album with Jerry Lee Lewis. So I’m looking forward to that. Jerry Lee? Yeah, he’s out there. Actually, I haven’t talked to him about doing the record yet—he hasn’t said yes or no—so we will have to wait and see. [Laughs]

Like his friend Bob Dylan, he’s planning an album of Frank Sinatra covers.

Frank Sinatra is my favorite singer, and always has been. For overall great singing, ain’t nobody can beat him. I read somewhere that I was his favorite singer, and we did a few shows together, and some commercials together, so he and I got to be good friends, but his singing always amazed me. So this is my way of honoring him and I’m looking forward to singing all the songs I heard him sing over the years. The song that epitomizes Frank to me that I’m planning to tackle? “My Way.” But Frank really owns that song, you know, so I’ll just sing it three times, and if it ain’t there, fuck it. I’ll move on. [Laughs]

Willie’s Reserve

The recent project he’s most proud of is Willie’s Reserve, from his legendary cannabis stash.

I have a lot of friends in Colorado, and my wife Annie had the recipe for the candy. There’s also some really talented and gals in California that I refer to as “The High Women” who are doing a great job doing everything that needs to be done to promote Willie’s Reserve. They know who to call to get the job done. But, yeah, a lot of people thought it was a good idea, so I just kind of sat back and burned one down and thought about what it could be.

Willie, not surprisingly, thinks the movement for legalization and the normalization of the use of marijuana in the general culture is a long time coming.

I think there are a lot of really right-wing old, white people out there who don’t really know what’s going on still. But once the kids grow up and get a chance to get into the voting booth, I think we’ll see a change like we have in the few states that have legalized it. That could be a long way off, but in the meantime I don’t think anybody’s ever had any problems buying weed if they wanted it—whether it was legal or not—so it’s a problem that one day may be solved, but right now it’s not solved at all. Actually, a lot of people throw it on stage, so it’s not that hard for me to get. [Laughs]

“A lot of people throw [marijuana] on stage, so it’s not that hard for me to get.”

As laid back as he is, the current state of politics concerns Willie Nelson as much as it does everyone else.

I think there’s a lot of things out there to be concerned about. So yeah, I’m concerned about it. And I’m hoping that more and more Americans will get concerned about it, because anytime you get even the hint that some foreign country might have anything to do with controlling our elections, well, that’s very disturbing to me, and I think it should be to every American out there. But when I get out on the stage I don’t bring in the politics. I don’t care if you’re a Baptist, a Methodist, a Muslim, or what the hell you are, as long as you like our music and you come to hear us, you won’t hear me say anything bad about anybody. But if you ask me my personal opinion, well, I’ll tell you what I think.

He also thinks Trump is over his head. And knows it.

I think he walked into a job that he had no idea of what he was getting himself into. I think about now he’s probably ready to back away and go home and forget it. I don’t know if he can do that or not now, but I have a feeling he’s beginning to realize that this is not the piece of cake he thought it was going to be.

Nelson and his sons, Micah and Lukas
Janis Tillerson

He’s as busy at 84 as he’s ever been—with a new album, a tour with his sons, a Sinatra covers album on the way and, of course, Willie’s Reserve—but Willie Nelson isn’t sweating what’s next. But he isn’t planning to retire, either.

I let other people worry about that stuff. If they come out with the T-shirt I like, I wear it. But other than that I don’t worry about the business all that much. There’s a lot of people out there that do think about those things, and that’s their job, and the way I see it I’ve got to let them do their job. But I do have to keep myself interested. That’s the big problem, because I have a tendency to roll over and go to sleep and forget about everything if given the choice. So I have to keep punching myself and making myself get up and go and book the tour and do the records, because I think that’s what keeps me going. I think as long as I can play I should play. I don’t think that I could just one day say, “This is it. I cannot play anymore.” I think if I did that I might as well lay down and die.

So one day maybe his sons will have to drag him off.

That’s possible! [Laughs]

Read article, see more photos here.   

Buddy Cannon interview on the Paul Leslie Hour

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017


Buddy Cannon is a large part of the equation when it comes to the success of several iconic country music recording artists.  He is the longtime producer for the bulk of Kenny Chesney’s discography and for the last 5 years he has been the producer of choice for country music legend Willie Nelson.  Other artists he has produced include George Jones, Chely Wright, Reba McEntire, and Merle Haggard.

Buddy Cannon has also been very successful as a songwriter.  With country artists Bill Anderson and Jamey Johnson, Buddy Cannon wrote the hit song “Give It Away.”  He’s written and co-written songs for artists as diverse as Vern Gosdin and Willie Nelson.

Although this interview covers many topics, it takes a close look at the acclaimed Willie Nelson album “Heroes,” which featured guest appearances by Merle Haggard, Lukas Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver, Sheryl Crow and Snoop Dogg.

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Willie Nelson Interview in Vanity Fair (August 20, 2009)

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

by:  Eric Spitznagel

Willie Nelson is one of those rare American icons that you’re just not allowed to dislike. He doesn’t have to be your favorite artist. You don’t even need to be able to name any of his songs—he’s got well over 2,000 of them, and off the top of my head I can only recall “On the Road Again”. But saying you don’t care for Willie Nelson is like saying that Elvis Presley was overrated, or that Abraham Lincoln gets too much press, or shrugging off the Bill of Rights as overrated claptrap. No, sorry, that’s just not okay. Loving Willie Nelson, like paying taxes and pretending to have an opinion about politics, is just part of being a citizen of the United States. Nobody’s asking you to memorize the lyrics to “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” or “Good Hearted Woman”, but if you happen to hear one of those songs on the radio and it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’ve shamed yourself and your country. Why not just spit on the flag while you’re at all, ya fucking commie?

I called Willie Nelson to talk about his latest album, American Classic, a collection of standards (his third since 1978’s megahit Stardust) that comes out next Tuesday, August 25th. It took me almost a month to track down the 76-year-old singer—actually, if you include my entire history of trying and failing to interview Nelson, it’s been at least two years. “We just can’t find him,” his PR rep has repeatedly told me. Given Willie’s age and propensity for smoking immense amounts of cannabis, that’s actually pretty remarkable. One doesn’t usually encounter senior citizens who are quite so wily and elusive. But that’s why Willie Nelson is a legend.

Eric Spitznagel: During your almost 50-year career, you’ve dabbled in a diverse array of musical styles. You’ve done country, pop, gospel, rock, jazz, and even reggae. Is there a genre that you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole? Can we expect a Willie hip-hop record any time soon?

Willie Nelson: (Laughs.) Well, you know, I try to do what I think I can do. I’m not sure that doing a rap record would be the best idea I ever had. I like to stick with music I know I can play. I love classical, but I don’t think I could ever play it. I’m just not qualified.

You’ve never been tempted to pick up a French horn?

Oh, I’ve thought about it. But it never ends well. The only time I ever picked up a horn, nothing came out the other end. I was disappointed at the time, because I kinda thought I could play anything. But I guess that isn’t true.

You re-recorded “Always On My Mind” for American Classic, which was originally a huge hit for you in 1982. Is that what happens when you’ve been in the business this long? “Aw crap, I did that one in the 80s? Why didn’t anybody fucking tell me?!”

(Laughs.) That’s possible. In fact, I suggested to my producer that maybe I’d done that song enough. But Barbra Streisand had talked about maybe wanting to do “Always On My Mind” with me for the album, so that’s the reason we recorded it, just on the outside chance she’d do it. But then she wasn’t available, and we just had the version I did by myself. I honestly would’ve left it off the album, because I thought I already did a pretty good take on that twenty-seven years ago.

You also recorded “Baby it’s Cold Outside” with Norah Jones. I’m not sure how closely you’ve listened to the lyrics, but I’m pretty sure that song is about date rape.

Yeah. That’s what I liked about it. (Laughs.) It’s about this guy who’s finally found what he needs from this gal and he’s just going for it.

You’re kidding, right?

Oh, I don’t know. You think it’s about rape? I’ve been listening to that song for a long time and I never picked up on that. The song’s older than you and me put together, probably.

Those lyrics are kinda difficult to interpret any other way. When a song begins with a woman pleading “the answer is no” while trying to get out of a dude’s apartment, it seems pretty inevitable that their date ends with a police report.

(Laughs.) A lot depends on how you sing it. You could make any song sound creepy if you wanted. It’s all about the inflection. At least the lyrics aren’t too obvious.

I guess that’s true. It could be so much worse. (Sings.) “You’re hurting my arm/ Baby’s it’s cold outside.”

Yeah, yeah. That’s when you know something is really wrong. (sings.) “My leg’s turning blue/ Baby’s it cold outside.”

You’ve been touring with Bob Dylan this summer. What’s it like backstage? Is it all giggles and pillow fights?

Honestly, no, it’s not that exciting. I open the show, so I usually get to the stadium first. I go on at 6:10, play for about hour and then get out of the way so that John Mellencamp can come on. Then Bob Dylan finishes it up. By the time Bob goes onstage, I’m a couple hundred miles down the road.

So the two of you haven’t had a chance yet to sit down with a one-hitter and share war stories?

Nope, not yet. There’ll hopefully be time for that later. And I think it’ll take more than a one-hitter. (Laughs.)

How have you resisted walking over to Bob and ripping that god-awful mustache off his face?

Bob has a mustache? I didn’t notice.

It’s just horrible. It’s like a cross between Vincent Price and a 14-year-old boy trying to grow facial hair. I love the man’s music, but somebody has to shave that thing.

Well, I’ve never been one to carry around a razor. (Laughs.) So I think he’s safe with me.

You sold the rights to “Family Bible,” one of your first songs, for just $50 and it went on to become a gospel classic. In hindsight, do you feel cheated?

No, no, not at all. I needed the $50 real bad. If the same thing happened today and I needed $50, I’d sell another one.

Do you have any songs lying around that you’d be willing to sell to us for $50?

I’d have to see the money first.

You’re shockingly prolific. It seems like you’re releasing a new record every few months. In the time it’s taken to do this interview, have you composed another album worth of songs in your head?

(Laughs.) Yeah, I sure have. And I’ve already sent it to you. Check your email. I sent you mp3s of some rough cuts.

Wow. Thank you, Willie. And you’re not even going to charge us for this one?

Naw, that one’s for free. It’s not really my best work.

As a country music legend, can you do something to stop the mullet?

(Laughs.) I can try if you want, if you think it’s worthwhile. I’ll try to write a song that’ll make it happen.

Would you? Just rewrite “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” but make it about mullets.

(Laughs.) So it’s “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Grow Mullets?”

Hey, you’re the artist. I’m just trying to push you in the right direction.

I’ll see what I can do.

You did a song in 2006 called “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other,” in which you claimed that “Inside every cowboy there’s a lady who’d love to slip out.” Is your inner lady a redhead too?

Um. (Long pause.) I’m not sure I know exactly what you’re talking about.

I don’t think I could be any clearer. Does the female Willie Nelson have a fire crotch? Does the red-headed stranger have a red snatch patch?

Well c’mon, I gotta have some secrets. (Laughs.) I’ll tell ya, though, I don’t cross-dress a lot. And my voice is kinda lower than most, so I don’t think I could get away with that. I don’t have anything against anybody. I’m not prejudiced in any way that I can think of. That’s just not the guy I am.

You once claimed that marijuana is better than sex. You’ve either been having terrible sex or smoking some really, really, really incredible weed. Which is it?

I don’t think I ever said that marijuana is better than sex. If I did, I must’ve been really fucked up. But no, I don’t think I ever said that. Marijuana is a nice high, but that’s about all you can say about it.

You got stoned on the roof of the White House in 1978. Not that we’d ever try it, but if we happen to be in the White House and we happen to have a fat Austin torpedo on us, how do we get up to the roof?

(Laughs.) Oh god, it’s been too many years. It’s kinda hard to tell you on the phone. I’ll send you a map.

How’d you even find your way up there the first time? Did you just make a lucky guess?

The fella that I was with knew his way around, so I didn’t ask any questions. I just followed him.

Now that there’s a Democrat back in the White House, it’s probably safe to light up again. Have you gotten the call from Obama yet?

Not yet, but I’m expecting it any day. (Laughs.) Next time I see him, I’m gonna ask if there’s a new way up to the roof that I should know about.

You’ve got your very own flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. What’s the THC content on that?

It’s high. I’ll just say that. It’s very, very high. It’s the equivalent of eight pounds of Oaxacan.

Holy Christ.

Yeah, you need to be careful with this stuff. It’s a lot. One bowl at a time.

Bruce Robison wrote a song called “What Would Willie Do?” Given your history, don’t you think it’d make more sense to ask, “What Would Willie Not Do?”

I think so, yeah. (Laughs.)

Not everybody’s liver is as durable as yours.

It’s funny you said that. There was a guy who worked for me named Poodie Locke. He was my road manager for 35 years, and he died just a few weeks ago. I hated to lose him. There’s a picture on my ice box of Poodie I’m looking at it right now, and it says “What Would Poodie Do?” I crossed off “What Would” and wrote in “What Didn’t“. (Laughs.) But I guess that applies for me too, doesn’t it?

That’s an excellent question. What haven’t you done yet? Hand-gliding? Gator rasslin’? Hunting men for sport?

Well I don’t know. I’ve tried to do as much as I can, but every day has something new. That’s how I like it. I’m always surprised to find out that there’s still so much left to do. I may have to wait till tomorrow to see what it is, but I know there’s some things out there I haven’t done.

So you’re telling us you haven’t tasted the sweet nectar of human flesh?

(Laughs.) Can’t say that I have.

Despite your hard-living, you seem as healthy as ever. What’s your secret?

Well, here’s the thing. For a long, long time, I had to spend my days trying to recuperate and recover from all the bad stuff I did at night. I’d wake up in the morning and think, “Well, how much fun did I have last night?” Because I had to spend the entire day trying to make up for it. After awhile, I just got tired of it, and I just quit abusing myself so much at night. It made my days easier.

I’ve heard that you enjoy jogging. How did you discover that? And were you being chased at the time?

(Laughs.) You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But no, I’ve always been a big jogger. I like to run and ride my bike and swim. I’m also into martial arts. I’ve always been an athlete, ever since I was a boy. So it’s not unusual that I’m still doing it. Despite my reputation, I really do enjoy things that are good for me.

You recently earned a black belt in Taekwondo. Under what circumstance would Willie Nelson kick somebody’s ass?

Probably under no circumstances. A guy who really knows martial arts doesn’t have to kick anybody’s ass. He knows when to just get out of the way.

You have a reputation for carrying guns in public. Are you packing right now?

No, no, I don’t carry guns anymore. It’s not necessary. I don’t know if anybody else in my group does. There might be one or two guys, like some of the security guys, but I don’t know. I never really ask. But not me, I have no use for a gun anymore.

I find that vaguely depressing. The guy with the nickname “Shotgun Willie” doesn’t have an arsenal of firearms strapped to his hip? What about your guitar? Isn’t it named Trigger?

Well yeah, but Trigger was a horse. Trigger was Roy Rogers’s horse.

So your guitar can’t also be used as a weapon? I was hoping it was a James Bond kinda thing. If the audience starts getting mouthy, you could just mow ’em down.

(Laughs.) No, I’m afraid not. Trigger is just my horse. It’s not a weapon at all.

In the mid-60s, you briefly gave up music for pig farming. Do you still keep a few pigs around the house for inspiration?

Oh yes. You know there’s nothing prettier than a pig. Have you ever seen an ugly pig?

I can’t say that I have.

I guarantee you’ve never seen an ugly pig or an ugly bulldog. There’s just something about them that just turns me on. (Laughs.) I’ve got pigs all over the house.

Do you take your pigs on tour with you?

Absolutely. I’m always on tour, so I never get rid of them. I just keep pigs in the back of the tour bus. Have you ever heard of pigs in a blanket? Well, you ain’t ever seen nothing like these pigs. (Laughs.)

You wrote a book called The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes. What’s the dirtiest joke you’ve ever heard?

Hmm. (Long pause.) See, my idea of a really great dirty joke isn’t something you can share with everybody. You gotta watch yourself.

Come on, you can tell us. We won’t judge you.

Well, one of my favorites goes something like this…. A kid asks his mama, “How come you’re white and I’m black?” And she says, “Honey, from what I can remember of the party, you’re lucky you don’t bark.”

(Laughs.) Wow. That is good. But you’re right, probably not for everybody.

You gotta be careful. Not everybody can appreciate a funny goddamn joke.

In the 1979 comedy Electric Horseman, you said, “I’m gonna get myself a bottle of tequila and one of those Keno girls who can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch.” Thirty years later, are those still words to live by?

(Laughs.) Well, there are a few things these days that I don’t crave as much anymore. I can get along without Tequila. And it’s hard to find chrome trailer hitches these days.

(Long pause. We both burst into laughter.)

I think I hear what you’re saying. If given the chance, you wouldn’t turn down some private time with a Keno girl?

(Laughs.) Ooooh the Keno girls, I do love ’em. I’ll sing ’em a song

Willie Nelson interview, Washington Post

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Washington Post

At 84 years old, Willie Nelson still has a strong voice as one of America’s leading songwriters. He sat down in his tour bus with The Washington Post’s Libby Casey to talk politics, pot, and what Americans can do to come together. He even sang The Washington Post’s new motto.

In an interview with The Washington Post aboard his tour bus, Willie Nelson urged Americans to bridge what he calls a great divide in politics. 

The 84-year-old also asks Attorney General Jeff Sessions to open his mind on drug policy. 

Nelson, a marijuana advocate and purveyor, strongly disagrees with Sessions’s statement in March that marijuana dependency is “only slightly less awful” than heroin dependency.

Nelson said Sessions should “try heroin and try marijuana and then call me and let me know if he still thinks it’s the same thing and one is as bad as the other.”

Watch the interview, which taped before Nelson’s show at Merriweather Post Pavilion on July 14, above, to hear more from Nelson on politics — and a musical riff on The Washington Post slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Willie Nelson on CBS Good Morning

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

The singer-songwriter, nearing 84, proudly proclaims he’s “still not dead” with his latest album, “God’s Problem Child.”

Willie Nelson has been “On the Road Again” — and again and again — ever since he released that song back in 1980. And a song on his newest album proves he has no intention of hanging it up any time soon, a point he underscores to our Bob Schieffer, For The Record (An earlier version of this story was originally broadcast on April 2, 2017):

“I woke up still not dead again today
The Internet said I had passed away
If I died I wasn’t dead to stay
I woke up still not dead again today.

“Now, how in the world do you come up with that song?” Schieffer asked.

“Oh, I don’t know — I’ve been killed several times throughout the years!” Nelson laughed. “And so I just thought I’d write something funny about it.”

It’s easy for Willie Nelson to laugh off these greatly exaggerated rumors of his demise. Now 84, he’s on the road again — performing and writing music. His last album, “God’s Problem Child,” was his 110th, give or take, with songs like “Still Not Dead” and “Old Timer.”

To hear Willie Nelson perform “Old Timer” from “God’s Problem Child,” click on the video player below:

Willie Nelson – Old Timer by WillieNelsonVEVO on YouTube

“There’s a theme here,” said Schieffer. “This is about the autumn of life. Is that hard for you to think about?”

“No,” he laughed. “You remember one of those deep thinkers, a guy named Seneca? He said you should look at death and comedy with the same countenance. And I believe that.”

Sony Legacy

“The autumn of your life — and I’m right there with you, buddy — it’s like the springtime in everybody else’s life. I mean, you’re at the top of your powers, I would say, right now.”

“Everything’s going good,” Nelson said. “I think age is just a number. I’ve heard it all my life: It’s not how old you are, it’s how you feel. And I’ve been lucky with [everything], health-wise and career-wise.

“I haven’t really got anything to bitch about!” he laughed.

It wasn’t always so. Early on, Nelson left his native Texas for Nashville, making a name for himself writing hits for others, like “Crazy,” recorded by Patsy Cline.

Nashville liked his songs, but his singing? Not so much.

At one point Nelson became so dejected that he went out and laid down in the middle of the street in Nashville hoping that a car would run over him. “‘Course, it was midnight — there wasn’t a lot of traffic!” he laughed. “No car got me!”

“What were those days like?” Schieffer asked.

“Oh, they were wild and crazy. You know, I was going through one relationship after another, one divorce after another. And those things will make you write songs. If you’re a songwriter, that’s where you get your material, from all your headaches and heartaches.”

Nelson went back to Texas, changed his look, and changed his tune — less Grand Ole Opry and more good ole boy, spiced with a little hippy and redneck. With his friend Waylon Jennings came a new, raw sound: Outlaw country.

To watch Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings perform “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” at Farm Aid (1986), click on the video player below.

Willie Nelson & Waylon – Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (Live at Farm Aid 1986) by Farm Aid on YouTube

Through the years, Nelson’s music came to transcend genre. He’s won eight Grammys, and honors he never imagined.

Regarding the record producer Harlan Howard’s quip that “Country music is three chords and the truth,” Schieffer asked Nelson, “What is it that sets your songs apart?”

“Well, you know, it’s three-quarters of the way true. You can have more than three chords!  But the truth matters.”

“What causes you to come up with these songs that people say, ‘Well, that’s right’?”

“I don’t know. I’m just writing what I’m thinking. And if it comes out pretty good, I’ll write it down somewhere and come up with a melody to it. But I’m just writing what I’m thinking, just off the top of my head, really.”

When he’s not traveling on his bus to one of the more than 100 shows he stills does every year, Nelson splits his time between a home in Maui (where he hangs with friends like Woody Harrelson), and his ranch outside Austin, complete with an Old West town he named Luck, Texas.

Correspondent Bob Schieffer and Willie Nelson in Luck, Texas.

CBS News

When Schieffer dropped by, 3,000 fans filled the town for the Luck Reunion, the brainchild of Willie’s great niece, Ellee.

She said the Luck Reunion had started as a one-day event: “Celebrating singers and songwriters who were kind of forging their path in the same kind of vein as Willie is. Just, you know, doing their own thing without compromise.”

“A lot of people get to hear a lot of good music and hang out, have a good time,” Nelson added. “So it’s turned out to be real good.”

Things didn’t always turn out “real good” for Willie. Back in the ’90s there was the little matter of back taxes he owed Uncle Sam.

“I gotta say,” Schieffer noted, “you’re the only guitar picker from Abbott, Texas that I ever knew or heard of that owed the federal government $32 million!”

“It’s kind of funny when you think about it!” Nelson laughed.

“But I’m sure it wasn’t funny to you at the time.”

He worked it out, and paid it off. But he never declared bankruptcy. “I don’t believe in that,” Nelson said. “You know, I believe if I owe some people some money, I want to pay them.”

He’s been arrested more than once for possession of marijuana.

“I want to ask you a little about pot,” Schieffer asked.

“You got one?”


These days he’s in the cannabis business in places where it’s legal. So why has he been such an advocate? “For myself, it’s good for me,” he said. “It keeps me from going off and doing crazy things. I can relax and play some music and sit around and visit and act like a grown-up, I think.”

Nelson once said that his fourth wife, Annie, married a better man than his other wives. “I did!” she laughed. “I got him after everybody else sort of trained him.”

They’ve been together more than 31 years.

And what’s it like to be married to Willie Nelson? “It’s not boring! It’s never boring. He has a lot of energy. There’s 23 years between us, but I think his goal is to wear me out so that we’re both the same age!”

Schieffer asked Nelson, “You think you’ll ever retire?”

“What do you want me, to quit?  All I do is play music and a little golf, and I don’t want to quit either one of those!”

For Willie Nelson the way to stop wearing out is to speed up.

Schieffer noted, “Andy Rooney said one time, ‘We don’t ask to get old. We just get old … And if you’re lucky, you may get old, too.’  You and I have been pretty lucky!”

“Yeah, we have,” Nelson said. “Very lucky. We’re still here. We woke up still not dead again!”

To hear Willie Nelson perform “A Woman’s Love” from “God’s Problem Child,” click on the video player below:

Willie Nelson – A Woman’s Love by WillieNelsonVEVO on YouTube

See Micah Nelson Particle Kid in Toledo tonight

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Micah Nelson, son of Willie Nelson, plays tonight
by:  Geoff Burns

An overcast afternoon in the Glass City finds musician Micah Nelson arriving to Toledo after driving more than three hours from Cincinnati.

“We just basically drove across Ohio today,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I’ve never played in Toledo before, at least not solo or with any of my projects. I might have played with my dad sometime down the road, but this is my first actual show here.”

Micah, son of iconic American superstar Willie Nelson, brings his experimental folk pop rock solo project Particle Kid Thursday night at the Ottawa Tavern, 1817 Adams St. in Toledo.

The 27-year-old musician found himself interested in film making and wanting to be a director at a young age, until he started experimenting with synthesizers and guitars.

“Anything that was around I wanted to explore and experiment with it,” he said. “I’ve always been curious about everything.”

Eventually he decided to pursue music.

Growing up in a family of musicians, it wasn’t until Micah was introduced to Beck and The Flaming Lips that his interest in writing and performing it himself was piqued. That inspiration continued into film soundtracks such as those composed by Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard, as well as punk rock bands like The Stooges and Weezer. The list goes on.

“All different influences over time helped push me in the direction of feeling like I could write my own songs,” he said. “I think every genre of music has something in it that is authentic and has resonated with me enough to bring something of that into what I’m doing.”

When he’s not spending his time on other projects, like his experimental band Insects Vs. Robots, or playing next to his brother, Lukas, in the band Promise of the Real, Micah focuses on his solo performances as the Particle Kid.

Originally created on an acoustic guitar, Nelson released a self-titled album in April, which blends folk, rock, pop, punk and jazz. He plans to perform a stripped-down solo acoustic set of the album Thursday in Toledo.

Constant lyrical references to dreaming and the ocean permeate the album.

“I realized there was this underlying theme of I was singing to something or someone,” he said. “It’s hard to say if it’s a romantic person, a girl or something, or if it’s the universe, the cosmos’ existence itself. A lot of those themes involve natural elements. There wasn’t any sort of deliberate conscious effort to have an interconnected theme with anything. Most of these songs are coming from a pretty subconscious place where there’s little rationality involved until it’s pieced together into an arrangement.”

Nelson said he’s drawn inspiration from various musicians throughout his life, speaking highly of Neil Young several times during the 35-minute phone call.

“My family is musicians, and experiencing all different kinds of music and the essence of what that music is has given me these different musical personas that I try to channel these different things into Particle Kid,” he told The Blade. “Because I’ve been able to experience these different music cultures and see how they’re interconnected has allowed me to have this pallet to draw from with whatever project I’m involved in.”

Then there’s his dad’s influence.

He said his father has always been encouraging and supportive of his work.

“I think he’s proud of me for doing it my way because he always did it his way,” he said.

In fact, it was his father who came up with the name, “Particle Kid,” when Micah was 15 years old after he returned home from a trip.

He laughs as he remembers the story.

“I was playing Mario Kart 64 and he comes in [from his room] and I could smell him when he walked in,” he said. “He was so stoned and reeked so much and I turned around and he had this big grin on his face and his eyes were all red and squinty. He was all like, ‘Welcome home, Particle Kid,’ and just walked out. I thought it was the funniest thing ever, I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Years later I asked him [about it] and he said he remembers he wanted to say, ‘Welcome home, Prodigal Son,’ but he was so stoned that it came out as Particle Kid. It just sort of stuck.”

Ultimately, the younger Nelson said, he inherited his passion for music from his father.

“Just being a fearless artist and expressing yourself and doing it in a way that connects with people and makes people feel something is an achievement,” he said. “It’s something [my father] really mastered. We’ve really gotten closer because of it and I’m happy for that.”

Tickets cost $10 at the door. Special guests include Ben Stalets, Jake Pavlica, and A.S. Coomer. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Contact Geoff Burns at or 419-724-6054.

Willie Nelson on the Howard Stern Show

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Willie Nelson Interview (Entertainment Weekly, (Sept. 18, 1998)

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

photo:  Laura Farr
by:  Jeff Gordinier

Willie Nelson reaches across the table and whispers four soft words: “It’s good for you.” His brown eyes are shining like sunlight on the Rio Grande. His voice is rustling like wind through a wheat field. And between those burlap knuckles of his, well, he’s got a joint as fat as a rope.

It all feels like Luke Skywalker taking the lightsaber from Obi-Wan Kenobi. You can’t say no.

So I don’t. I inhale. Deeply. Which probably isn’t the smartest journalistic strategy in the world, considering that my life’s experience with ganja consists primarily of a couple of pathetic coughing fits in college. The thing is, there’s something so gentle about Willie Nelson, so utterly blissful and reassuring, that climbing into his tour bus feels like stepping into the lost ashram of a Himalayan mystic. Just the sound of his laugh can lower your heart rate. Besides, it’s late in the afternoon, and Willie’s tiny office on the bus, the Honeysuckle Rose II, is already so banked with sweet herbal fog that a plane wouldn’t be cleared for landing. A puff or two won’t make any difference, right?

It’s a busy day, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Willie’s supposed to ride the highway up to Boulder, Colo., to play songs from his haunting new album, Teatro, for radio station KBCO and a packed house at the Fox Theatre. Plus, he’s just been named a Kennedy Center honoree, alongside entertainers like Bill Cosby and Shirley Temple Black, so people keep calling the bus to congratulate him.

If anyone deserves an official blessing from the United States government, why not Willie Nelson? He wrote national anthems like “Crazy” and “Night Life” and “On the Road Again.” He’s saved Nashville from its cheesiest impulses with albums like Red Headed Stranger and Spirit and Stardust. His voice is seared on the American landscape as indelibly as the voices of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra. Besides, he’s done a guest spot on King of the Hill. “For me, Willie is what you’d imagine an elder would be like in native mythology,” says Daniel Lanois, Teatro’s producer. “Without saying too much, he projects an aura that just makes you feel good to be around.”

But there’s a fantastic irony here, too, when you think about a bunch of Beltway Babbitts squeezing into their tuxes and clinking their champagne flutes to the original Nashville outlaw, a man who’s wrangled with drug laws and the Internal Revenue Service, who’s crisscrossed miles of conservative highway with his beard and ponytails and beatific smile intact, who’s spent a large portion of his 65 years whispering four soft, subversive words to the stress-battered American people: It’s good for you.

“I was doomed to go to hell by the time I was 7,” Willie is saying, “because I had been told that if you smoke cigarettes and drink beer you’re going to hell. And by 7, I was gone.” Thus resigned to eternal damnation, Willie came up with the only spiritual approach that made sense: There’s nothing to hide, and nothing to get too upset about. “If you get up thinkin’ everything’s gonna be wonderful, you’re gonna find out somethin’ happened that wasn’t that wonderful,” he says. “And if you think everything’s gonna be terrible, then you’re gonna miss what was good. So there is a little bit of Zen in there: You shouldn’t be too elated at the good things, and you shouldn’t be too depressed at the bad things.” Not since Butch Cassidy has somebody so defiant been so laid-back about it.

You can ask Willie anything, good or bad, and he’ll respond with that sagebrush laugh and a flash of those muddy-river eyes. The night in 1970 when he dashed into the flaming eaves of a burning house to rescue a pile of pot? “A guitar and the pot,” he gently corrects me. The night when he walked out of a Nashville bar and stretched his bones in the middle of a busy road? “I was pretty drunk, but I do remember it,” he says. “It was one of those Russian roulette things, you know? You really didn’t give a damn, and yet you did. Just before the truck woulda hit me, I’d have said, ‘Why did I do that?’”

I ask whether it’s true that the first of Willie’s four wives tied him up and beat him purple as punishment for a drunken binge. Willie not only verifies the story, he muses over the method of bondage. “I think there were sheets stitched together, and then jump ropes to secure them,” he says. “Then she packed all of my clothes and left. So when I finally got out of the sheet, all my clothes were gone.”

The father of seven (and grandfather of seven more) waves toward a beautiful woman sitting toward the back of the bus. “This is Lana, my daughter,” he says. “Her mother was the one in that story you asked about.”

“I might’ve been 4 or 5,” says Lana, now 44. “She left us in the car waiting while she hit him with the broom. And she came runnin’ out and threw the broom on the porch and jumped in the car.”

And…how did you feel?

“Well, I hated to see Daddy get beat up with a broom!” she laughs whimsically. “But if my husband came home drunk, I might do the same thing.” “And,” Pop chimes in, “if he’d done it on more than one occasion.”

Willie gave up booze years ago—”To me, alcohol is not positive,” he says–but he’s been smoking weed since 1953, when a fiddle player in Fort Worth first passed him a joint. “It wasn’t a big deal back in the early days in Fort Worth,” Willie insists. “Most of the law enforcement agents were smokin’ pot. They’d bust other people, get the pot, and we’d sit around and smoke it. They realized it was a bad law, but they were makin’ the best of it.”

Texas troopers may be a bit more zealous these days, but whenever there’s a head-on collision between Willie and various statutes and ordinances, it seems like Willie’s the one who comes out unscathed. Four years ago he was arrested when police found him and a joint cuddling in the backseat of a Mercedes; pretty soon the charges were dropped. “There was no cause to give me any problems there that night, because I wasn’t botherin’ nobody,” Willie explains. “When it’s foggy and you’re tired, you pull over and go to sleep. You shouldn’t be harassed by the police department.” Eight years ago the IRS saddled him with a massive burden of back taxes—$32 million—but Willie struck a deal with the feds to whittle down the debt, paid off the rest, and moved on.

It’s been that way since Abbott, the lean Texas town where he baled hay and picked cotton as a kid. “We had no law in Abbott. There was nothing illegal,” he recalls as the Honeysuckle Rose II rolls through the strip malls and cheeseburger troughs of the New West. “I’ve kind of brought Abbott with me.”

In the front of the bus is a TV. CNN is blasting the news that Bill Clinton has bombed outposts in Sudan and Afghanistan—an event of weird significance for one of the stars of Wag the Dog. Willie asks if I want to watch a video. I suggest he might prefer to catch up with the military showdown instead. “The war’s about over, probably,” he laughs. “We’re gonna miss the whole f—in’ war, just goin’ to Boulder.”

Willie may come across as the un-Clinton—he’s inhaled, he’s fooled around, he doesn’t lie about it—but he’s actually quick to forgive Slick Willie his amorous misadventures. “I think any male on the planet will have sympathies for where he’s at,” he says. “Most of us can withstand everything but temptation. And a guy who’s bombarded as much as he is, as president? Most presidents are too old to worry about s— like that!” As for his own battles with temptation on the road, Willie and his crew long ago came up with an official policy: “We leave town early.”

Keeping on the move has always been a Willie trademark. Daniel Lanois is such a sonic perfectionist that it often takes him months to cut an album, but when the Grammy-winning producer of Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind and Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball hunkered down in an old California movie theater to record Teatro, it took…four days. Which is not to say it feels tossed off: A spooky flamenco hayride of a record, Teatro proves that after 213 albums over the course of four decades, Willie Nelson is hitting another moment of creative fervor. “I’m so used to making records where one has to labor, it sort of caught me by surprise,” Lanois marvels. “Willie really trusts first takes.”

Eventually Willie and I do watch a movie, an upcoming made-for-CBS Western called Outlaw Justice. My critical faculties are fairly warped at this point, but I think Willie and Kris Kristofferson play old gunslingers who team up to avenge the death of a fellow desperado, played by Waylon Jennings.

After a few minutes Willie picks up the phone. “Hey, Waylon,” he says. “I just watched you die again in that movie.”

Maybe it’s the thin Colorado air, but by now the phrase mile-high has taken on a new meaning. Suddenly I have come to believe that Willie Nelson is a great American sage, that sculptors should carve his saintly visage into Mount Rushmore, that Outlaw Justice is a cinematic masterpiece, that…er…uh, dude, could you pass the potato chips?

Willie Nelson to Jeff Sessions, “Try some pot”

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

We sat down with Willie Nelson to talk about his new album, ‘God’s Problem Child.’ He also shared his thoughts on politics, his favorite curse word and why he thinks Jeff Sessions should smoke some pot.
by:  Patrick Doyle

It’s the day before Willie Nelson’s 84th birthday, but he’s keeping his plans modest. “I’m just going to try and be here,” he says with a laugh from his tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose, currently parked in Laughlin, Nevada, another stop on Nelson’s furious two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off touring schedule. “I’m still enjoying it,” he says. “It’s the two weeks off that gets kind of long.” This summer, Nelson will tour with the Outlaw Music Festival, which includes dates with Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell and Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah. Nelson is looking forward to breaking out songs from his excellent new album, God’s Problem Child. “It’ll be a great chance to run into a lot of old friends,” says Nelson, who, after thousands of gigs, has his own ways of keeping the show interesting: “I won’t intentionally try to throw the band off, but I do things that they don’t know. And sometimes, there’s a magic that happens.”

Your new single “Still Not Dead” is hilarious. What was the inspiration?
Well, many years ago, when I wrote “On the Road Again,” that’s the first time I heard that I was dead. Somebody said, “Willie was singing ‘On the Road Again,’ and a bus hit him.” That was funny for a few years. Then I heard these, what do you call them, “alternative facts”: I got up two or three times in the past couple of years and read I’d passed away. I just wanted to let ’em know that’s a lot of horseshit.

This summer you’ll reunite with Dylan. What’s it like when you two hang out?
I don’t think that’s ever happened much. We play music together more than we talk, and that’s probably good. [In 2004] my son Lukas and Dylan hit it off really good; he’d sit in with him and play guitar, and they jammed a lot on those tours. That was fun.

Who’s your favorite live act?
Leon Russell was one of the greatest entertainers out there. First time I saw him, he was playing for about 40,000 people in New Mexico. It’s the first time I saw anybody throw their hat into the audience. That’s where I stole that idea.

Jeff Sessions recently said that pot is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.
I wonder if he’s tried both of them. I don’t think you can really make a statement like that unless you tried it all. So I’d like to suggest to Jeff to try it and then let me know later if he thinks he’s still telling the truth!

What do you make of the Trump presidency so far?
Well, I knew him back when he owned some casinos, and I worked for him. He always paid me. I had no problems at all. I think he’s stepped into a different world. Like he said this morning, “I had no idea this job was going to be this hard.” It’s easy when you can just go bankrupt anytime you want to and say, “I’ll check you later.” But that’s hard to do when you’re president of the United States.

You sell “Willie Nelson for President” bumper stickers. Do a lot of people tell you to run for office?
Oh, yeah, which makes me even more glad that I didn’t. I came close a couple times. And then I sobered up.

So Trump hasn’t made you want to step in.
I think you can do more with music than you can with arguments and politics. I think a song will reach more people than any other thing. There’s a reason that it’s called “harmony”: When you play a show, there’s an energy exchange with the people that is unimaginable. It’s the reason I go out there. I get something out of it too.

What rules did you impose on your kids growing up?
My wife has one, and it’s three rules: “Don’t be an asshole, don’t be an asshole, and don’t be a goddamn asshole.” Mine has always been, “Don’t start no shit and there won’t be no shit.”

You’ve been married to your wife, Annie, for 25 years. What have you learned about marriage?
Well, it’s kind of like Donald was saying about being president: There’s nothing easy about it. Every day is hard work. It ain’t for everybody. I’ve been married a few times.

What has golf taught you about life?
Not a damn thing. Somebody said you’re ruining a nice walk, golfing. But I love to play. I went out and played the other day with my sons. I had an eagle on a par-four hole, so I was happy.

Are you still exercising every day?
Yeah, I’ll ride a horse, swim or run. Cussin’ is good exercise – I do that too.

What’s your favorite curse word?
I tell everybody when I get to be president, “fuck it” is going to be one word.

You’ve launched your own marijuana company, Willie’s Reserve. How’s that going?
Going good. I have other people kind of doing it for me. Annie is on the edible side, and she’s a great chef, and she’s been working in Colorado and all those places where it’s legal.

Is there any downside to smoking pot every day?
I haven’t run into any yet. I guess if you go somewhere where it’s illegal, that’s a pretty good downside.

Willie Nelson on CMT Hot 20 Countdown (May 13, 14)

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Willie Nelson is always good for a joke. He loves them, and before he and Katie Cook wrapped their CMT Hot 20 Countdown interview on his bus in San Diego, they exchanged a few clean ones.

“I went on this blind date and I told the guy I’d meet him in the bar,” Cook said. “I sat exactly where I would be, he comes walking over and he was like, ‘Are you Katie?’ I’m like, ‘Are you John?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘I’m not Katie.’”

“That’s good,” Nelson said. “I’ve got a drop joke that you might like: A guy was on the second floor of this hotel, too close to the window and he fell out on the ground. Someone walks up to him and says, ‘What happened?’ He said, ‘I don’t know I just got here.’”

Humor is at the heart of how Nelson looks at life — and death. Rumors and hoaxes about the music icon’s untimely end have followed the singer since his 1980 No. 1 “On the Road Again” and he takes them all in stride.

“There have been rumors out there,” he said, “‘One day, Willie was out on the road singing ‘On the Road Again’ and a truck hit him.’ … Ever since then I’ve been hearing those stories. I thought it was really funny.”

At 84, Nelson shows no signs of stopping. In the last 60 years, he’s recorded more than 110 albums (not counting his live sets and greatest hits compilations), and he continues to tour all year long.

His latest collection, God’s Problem Child, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart. The lineup for his six-city Outlaw Music Festival tour starting July 1 in New Orleans includes Bob Dylan and His Band, the Avett Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, My Morning Jacket, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Margo Price, Hayes Carll and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.

When Cook asked Nelson if he saw age as just another number, he agreed.

“People do get old, that’s the way life is, and fortunately we’ve gotten this old. And hopefully we can get older.

“One of those heavy-thinkers, Seneca, said that you should look upon death and comedy with the same countenance. I thought that’s pretty interesting.

“You know we’re all gonna die one day,” he added, “It’s not not going to happen. So you have to have some kind of attitude about it, and I guess comedy is as good as any.”

The second part of of Cook’s interview with Nelson will air on an all-new CMT Hot 20 Countdown on Saturday and Sunday (May 13-14) at 9 a.m. ET/PT.

Willie Nelson interview with Charley Rose (1999)

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Willie Nelson’s new album, “God’s Problem Child” out next week (April 28th)

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Willie Nelson’s new album out next week!  If you can’t wait for the album to be available in your local independent record store, you can choose your music service and pre-order your copy:






Willie Nelson Interview (April 2008)

Sunday, April 9th, 2017
by:  Steve Russell

What one thing should every man know about women?

Well, Ray Price told me that the only thing he’d learned about women is that money makes them horny. I couldn’t argue with that.

What’s the worst physical pain you’ve ever experienced?

I was touring in Hawaii about 20 years ago, and I just got to running — first time in I don’t know how long. Then I hit the water and swam. My left lung completely collapsed. I instinctively knew what had happened and was far enough offshore to get a little concerned. But the real pain was in the hospital. They stick something through your back to pump the lung up, and whatever decibel your scream is, that’s how they know they’ve penetrated the lung. I peaked that sucker.

No, not really. I had a dream one night — the funniest dream I ever had. This guy said, “I want to talk to Tex Cobb.” I had been hanging out with Tex, so I guess that’s why he said it. I said, “He’s not here.” And the guy said, “Well, where is he?” And I said, “I don’t know.” And the guy just out of the clear blue said, “You’re about 90 percent smart-ass, ain’t you?” And I heard myself in my sleep say, “Well, you son of a bitch, you come over here. I’ll hit you in the goddamn nose.” And then he said, “Make that 100 percent.” I woke myself up laughing.

What’s the best cure for a hangover?

I don’t think there is any good thing for a hangover except suffering a little bit.

What’s the best cure for a heartbreak?

More hangovers.

Which commandment do you break most often?

Well, I try to keep “Thou shalt not kill.” The rest of them I’m kind of shaky on.

What would you do with a time machine?

I’d go back to the horse-and-buggy days, get me a good horse and a saddle and a guitar, and take off and ride about five miles a day. I’d build a fire and play or write a song. Then I’d get up and ride five more miles.

Where’s the strangest place you ever woke up?

I’d been drinking in a place called the Night Owl, in West, Texas, and then caught a ride up to Hillsboro to a restaurant where a lot of trucks stopped. Well, I lay down in the back of one of those trucks and woke up the next morning as the driver was pulling into the stockyards in Fort Worth. I’m just glad I didn’t crawl in with a bunch of longhorns.

What song do you have to hear once a week?

“Chiseled in Stone,” by Vern Gosdin, from the ’80s. If you don’t know it, it’s not anything I could tell you. When you hear it you’ll say, “Okay, now I know what Willie’s talking about.”

What was your first car?

An old ’36 Ford wagon me and my friend Zeke bought from my brother-in-law for $195. One time I’d gone inside to see a girl and Zeke stayed out in the car. Some kid saw gas leaking from the tank — he might’ve had a beer or two, I don’t know — but he said, “What would happen if I put a match to this gas tank?” and Zeke said, “Well, you crazy son of a bitch, it’d catch on fire.” So the kid struck a match and Zeke came running to tell me the car was burning up. That was the end of that ’36 Ford.

What’s the biggest bet you ever made?

Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson and I gamble all the time, on dominoes and chess and poker. It doesn’t really matter how much, because we wind up, even before the night’s over, trading hundred-dollar bills. Those are some real fun guys to hang out with.

What’s the most cherished possession you ever lost?

My son. I ain’t never lost nothing else that wasn’t replaceable.

What one experience do you want to have before you die?

I would be real greedy to ask for anything else. I’ve played music and sung with just about everybody I wanted to. Except for Barbra Strei­sand. It’s not too late for that.

The songs keep coming for Willie Nelson

Monday, April 3rd, 2017
Willie Nelson still has a story to continue in song, and no plans to leave the stage. ... -
by:  Tresa Patterson

The songs keep coming and the stage still calls the music legend in his older years

#Willie Nelson is too contented with life to spend much time looking at his calendar. The founder of the “outlaw country” music movement is still moving down the road just before his 84th birthday later this month. The singer-songwriter has penned a catalog of songs reads like a chronicle of 70 years of hits through heartache and hope, and the story continues. Willie has a new album, “God’s Problem Child,” ready for release on the day before that big birthday later this month, and reflects on how his younger years were much darker than these days. The music always drives the man from Abbott, TX to brighter horizons and his next gig to play.

Too much life, laughter, and music to come

“I’ve been killed several times throughout the years,” Willie jokes with Bob Schieffer on “CBS Sunday Morning,” adding “so I just thought I’d write something about it.” It’s fitting that the two contemporaries are discussing “Still Not Dead,” a song featured on the new album to which both can relate with humor.

No one is counting numbers or erroneous press reports of Willie Nelson’s passing, but the latest collection makes the 110th album for Nelson, not counting varied collections. The artist recalls the early struggles of his career in Nashville, when his songs like “Crazy,” “Hello Walls,” and countless more were snagged for other artists, while their composer’s vocals were deemed not suitable for recording. At one particularly low point, the artist plopped himself in the middle of a Nashville street, hoping to be hit by a car. “I was going from one relationship to the other, marriage and divorce,” describes Nelson, noting that songwriters get the best material “from headaches and heartache.” Fortunately, traffic was light that night, and a bright horizon was waiting for Willie in Texas.

Giving up on “establishment” Nashville, Willie returned to Texas, took on his authentic persona, and teamed up with friends like Waylon Jennings, and nothing has been the same for him or country music since. He still plays “on the road again” with about 100 dates per year, but Willie Nelson can also draw a crowd in his own backyard.

The Mayor of Luck

Some years back, Willie Nelson fulfilled a dream to have his own Western town created near his property outside of Austin, and he named the municipality “Luck.” Hosting annual music events at the Luck Reunion is more than a good time for fans. It has become a movement for fostering new artists in music and art, and even chefs who create under their own calling. The mission is to “cultivate the new while showing honor to influence” per the website. Last year, Valerie June and Margo Price were among the esteemed headliners.

The family is one of the sweetest joys now for Willie Nelson, as moments of embraces and laughter with sons, Lukas and Micah, provide interludes to the music. His great-niece coordinates the event. Sister, Bobbie plays piano every night, and praises “he’s really a poet” of her little brother, who still writes songs simply from the heart. Fourth wife, Annie, has been with Willie for over 30 years, 23 years his junior, and she remains sure that “his goal is to wear me out so that we’re both the same age.”

Willie Nelson seems as ageless as his music. “The truth matters,” the songwriter says, paraphrasing Harlan Howard, noting that using more than three chords is permissible. The music has always spoken a real man’s story in truth, and right now, he agrees, “I haven’t really got anything to bitch about,” and all music lovers can wish for is a few more years.