Archive for the ‘Magazines’ Category

Country Rhythms (September 1981) (UK)

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

[Thanks so much  to Phil Weisman for gifting me this great magazine from the UK.  The country music magazines always have the best photos.]

Country Rhythms
September 1981

It takes three buses and two trucks to move Willie Nelson and his band and crew around the country for the over 250 performances that Willie gives each year.  But for all it grueling aspects, life on the road never loses that sense of freedom and adventure so important to country musicians like Willie Nelson, who spent much of their early lives yearning to escape from backgrounds of poverty and rural isolation.

These photographs by Michael Abramson, courtesy of Columbia Records, tell the story of Willie’s magic caravan better than worlds could ever do.

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Willie Nelson, Connie Nelson and daughters Amy and Paula

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As unspoiled by his fantastic success as any one could possibly be, Willie Nelson is always available t his fans after a show.  Although he values his privacy, Willie knows how important it is to maintain personal contact with the people to whom he means so much.

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Willie Nelson Fans

Monday, September 11th, 2017

 

A while back, Janis and I on a late night hunt for the Willie Nelson Rolling Stone cover.

Willie Nelson: Entertainer of the Century

Saturday, September 9th, 2017


by Joe Nick Patoski
Texas Monthly
December 1999

When you ride shotgun with Willie Nelson around the back roads of Willie World, the self-contained universe he created for himself and his extended family in the Hill country west of Austin, you realize what it is that makes him such an icon.  It’s his Willieness  It hits you while watching the old guy in black with scraggly beard and the puppy-dog eyes undo a braid on his pigtail.  He doesn’t fit the sterotype of a 66-year-old veteran of a profession that eats its young.

The goofy grin he flashes conveys the vibe that he really and truly likes what he’s doing.  We like it too.  Riased in the heart of the state and steeped in his ways, coming up the hard way and going against the grain, he’s a Texan’s Texan.  He’s seen the wilder side of life and isn’t uncomfortable in the company of thieves, a few of whom have been his friends and business associates  (that’s Texas too).

A little bit honky-tonk and a whole lot of cosmic, he’s a cultural evangelist who knows how to lead a flock of true believers — a technique that serves him well in Vega or Vegas, whether he’s washed in the neon glow of a beer joint or basking in the klieg lights of the great performance halls in the Western world.  Through it all, ol’ Will grins away.  As he tools around in his pickup truck in a state of herbal bliss, he’s locked in a zone of his own and right in sync with the master plan hatched at age eight.  “I started out watching Gene Autry and Roy Rogers every Saturday on the movie screen in Hillsboro,” he says in his relazed drawl.  “I knew what I wanted to do:  I wanted to be a singing cowboy, ride my horse, play my guitar, shoot my gun.  So here we are.”

Joe Nick Patoski has written a new book about Willie Nelson, ‘Willie Nelson:  An Epic Life,” published in April 2008.  Michael Corcoran, of the Austin, wrote this:

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life” by Wimberley writer Joe Nick Patoski looks to be an epic biography. Publisher Little Brown lists the book, set for release the week before Nelson’s 75th birthday, April 30, at a whopping 480 pages. Patoski conducted more than 100 interviews for the book, which looks to be Willie’s  biography.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had working on a project,” Patoski said in August, soon after he turned in the first draft. He said he was actually a bit sad when he was done. The book not only chronicles Willie’s amazing career and humble upbringing, but it delves into the characters that make up the icon’s extended family.”

 

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Stars Who Care: Willie Nelson’s Harvest of Hope

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Thanks, Phil Weisman, for this magazine article.

Willie Nelson: Farm Aid’s Heart and Soul

Monday, August 28th, 2017

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

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

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www.VanityFair.com
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

Billboard Picks Top Ten Willie Nelson songs

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

photo:  Gary Miller

www.Billboard.com

Willie Nelson. The name is six letters each for both first and last name, yet there is nothing simple about the man. In his career, he has defied – and continues to defy genres or classifications. He has recorded albums with just about every musical theme known to man since he began recording in the late 1950s. He has tipped the hat to Cole Porter and Ray Price, and recorded with artists ranging from Hank Snow to Snoop Dogg.

To dissect Nelson’s recorded legacy in a (somewhat) comprehensive manner, we decided to make this about Nelson’s greatest solo singles over the years. Artists such as Waylon, Johnny, and Julio all belong on a greatest hits list……but let’s hold that for a duet one. Here are ten of his finest moments in the solo spotlight!

10. Willie Nelson – “September Song”

The names Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson, and Walter Huston were not – and are not now, for that matter – known to Country audiences in 1979. And, Weill and Anderson’s composition – which Huston took to number one in 1950, and was also recorded by crooners such as Sinatra and Crosby – wouldn’t probably make many lists of “Great Willie Nelson songs.” But, the singer DID record this one for the 1978 triumph Stardust, and did climb to the Top-20 on the Country singles chart with it. And, if you heard it back then – you know that this was one of his greatest performances.

9. Willie Nelson – “Forgiving You Was Easy”

For all the success and all the awards that have come Nelson’s way over the years, the most telling sign of his greatness is just how purely simple his songs are. There wasn’t a lot of production or overblown words on this 1985 number one hit, but there didn’t need to be. The singer wrote what he felt, delivered it on record, and simply let the listener be the judge. And, that’s sometimes all you really need to do.

8.  Willie Nelson – “One in a Row”

Deciding to limit this list to just Nelson’s solo work ensured that I would be able to select at least one track from his pre-beard early days on RCA Victor. Nelson never did hit the top ten during his days on the label, which was a shame – as the singer came up with some very interesting and vital work during his several years at the label. One of his biggest Nipper-related moments came with this Top-20 hit from 1966 that allowed the singer to shine in this Nashville Sound-themed recording. Perhaps it was the dramatic element of the arrangement that made his unique vocal phrasing stand out so. This is definitely one of his most under-rated moments.

7.  Willie Nelson – “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”

As incredible of a wordsmith as Nelson has been in his career, the casual listener might be a little bit shocked that this ode to the lifestyle of the Old West does not include Nelson’s name as a writer. Instead, that honor goes to Sharon Vaughn, who crafted this finely-tuned lyric that inspired many who grew up drawn to the exploits of Rogers, Autry, and Bonanza.

6.  Willie Nelson – “On The Road Again” 

A Honeysuckle Rose inclusion, this song serves as proof of Nelson’s love of the road – and all that it entails. There’s something about the allure of the highway and the stage that has kept the singer going from one stage to the other – for years and years.

Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson onstage at Beacon Theatre in New York City.

5. Willie Nelson – “Whiskey River”

A concert staple since the early 1970s, this is perhaps Nelson’s closest thing to a theme song that he has in his catalog. But, actually, it’s not his catalog. Fellow Texan Johnny Bush wrote and recorded an amazing version of the song prior to Nelson, but it’s the singer’s 1979 cover that fans will point to as one of the greatest stage kick-off songs in country music history.

4. Willie Nelson – “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground”

From his Honeysuckle Rose film, this one remains one of Nelson’s greatest compositions. Walk down Nashville’s Broadway on any given night – and you will hear at least one country singer wanna-be performing this classic Willie Nelson song of heartbreak. Perhaps the singer at his most authentic and vulnerable.

3. Willie Nelson – “Always On My Mind”

Brenda Lee recorded it. Elvis Presley enjoyed a minor hit with it. But, in the hands of Nelson – one of the master song interpreters of all time – this record became one that was yielded into the Great American Songbook of the 1980s. His 1982 recording of this was an across-the-board hit for the singer, and also yielded Song of the Year trophies for writers Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James – all for a song that had been a decade old at the time!

2. Willie Nelson – “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”

After two decades in the business as a successful tunesmith, Nelson finally broke through to the top of the Billboard Country charts with – what else? A Fred Rose classic made famous by Roy Acuff some three decades prior! There was nothing about Nelson’s sparse recording of this chestnut – or the Red Headed Stranger album that it was selected from – that rang with commercial aplomb when it hit the market in 1975, but perhaps that’s what we love most about Willie Nelson – There is no rhyme or reason to the chorus. We simply love the chorus.

1. Willie Nelson – “Georgia On My Mind”

So, you’re on top of the musical world, as Willie Nelson’s star finally was in 1978. Chances are you are not looking to revisit musical legacies from a bygone era – but then again, Willie has always danced to his own musical beat. His decision to release the classics album Stardust – and to dust off this Hoagy Carmichael ballad was probably not the wisest conventionally, but any conversation about Willie Nelson songs has to include this one – which is best played over a stereo in the dark, with one’s favorite beverage within reaching distance.

Why Willie

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

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In a world that is crying for some honesty, it’s no wonder that Willie Nelson has captured the hearts of music lovers everywhere. The songs that Willie writes or chooses to sing are pure emotional truth, stripped of fancy embellishment.

Granted, it takes some people more time than others to get used to the stark quality of Willie’s style. But like other true originals (Bob Dylan, Jackson Brown) once Willie’s in your blood, he’s there to stay.

If you’ve never really listened to Willie Nelson, the best place to start is ‘Red Headed Stranger,’ the album that turned more people on to Willie than anything else he’s done.

Also highly recommended is the brand new, ‘To Lefty, From Willie’ album. It’s a tribute to Lefty Frizzell, one of Willie’s idols, and one of the most influential country vocalist/songwriters of all time.

Why Willie? Who else communicates this much honesty and beauty.

Willie Nelson, on Lone Star/Columbia Records and Tapes.

Willie Nelson on Retirement

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

www.People.com
by: Yvonne Juris

Willie Nelson is 84 and he’s not thinking about retiring from music –probably ever.

When asked in an interview on CBS Sunday Morning whether he’s considered hanging up his guitar, the country legend-turned-pot activist scoffed.

“What do you want me to quit? I just play music and a little golf and I don’t wanna give up either one of those!”

He also doesn’t plan on giving up pot, either.

“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.”

In the singer-songwriter’s latest album, God’s Problem Child, the country music star reflects on his life, sometimes using a humorous approach in songs like “Still Not Dead Again.”

In Nelson’s memoir, It’s a Long Story, released in 2015, Nelson charted his adventures and bad boy, wild, freewheeling lifestyle of drugs, women and music. The artist has released at least 110 albums during the course of his long and sensational career.

Nelson lives on a ranch outside Austin, with his fourth wife, Annie. The couple has been married for more than 31 years.

WIllie Nelson in Cowboys and Indians

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

Good job, Phyllis Rademacher, for reorganizing the mags at your local HEB.  Looks much better.

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic Posters and History, by Dave Thomas

Friday, June 30th, 2017

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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.

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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.

I couldn’t find it on e-bay;  we can e-mail Dave Thomas to see about getting a copy, at davetx@austin.rr.com.

 

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Willie Nelson Playlist

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

www.CowboysandIndians.com

Pick up the July 2017 issue on newsstands June 6. (Photo by Rodney Bursiel)

On the cover of the July 2017 edition of Cowboys & Indians (on newsstands June 6) we’re featuring one of the most prolific and enduring artists of any generation.

At 84 years old, Texas’ beloved Red Headed Stranger Willie Nelson continues his ever-expanding legacy of authentic roots music and dynamic live performances?—?his 4th of July Picnic will return to Austin this year, and he’ll also be the focus of a festival tour featuring everyone from Bob Dylan to Sheryl Crow as co-headliners.

Achieving the status of consummate road warrior and timeless musical icon has rarely been a solo journey for Nelson. Since before the country-outlaw days of 1970s Texas, he has surrounded himself with like-minded individuals who put true musicianship and good vibes first. Everyone seems to love the man, which is why Willie’s “family” comprises both blood relatives and bosom buddies.

Like many a music lover, I’ve enjoyed heaping helpings of his tunes throughout my life. I’ve also heard impassioned fan stories from septuagenarian relatives, fellow middle-aged friends, and young’uns in the family who’ve only just discovered the magic of vinyl records. Willie’s appeal transcends age and status; the sight of his weathered face and the sound of his well-worn voice and Martin guitar evoke a bevy of emotions for fans of all stripes around the world.

Whether it’s the classic anthem “On the Road Again,” the bookend barnburner “Whiskey River,” a pensive cover such as “Stardust,” or a tearful lament like “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” his songs make up the kind of catalog that could fuel a lifetime of diverse road-trip playlists. Below, you’ll find a playlist we’ve put together that touches on many of Willie’s creative peaks. You can listen to as you consider Willie’s legacy and/or embark on your own summer vacation. 


Read our cover story with Willie Nelson in the July 2017 issue on newsstands June 6.

Willie Nelson in Cowboys and Indians Magazine (July 2017)

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

 

www.cowboysindians.com
by:  Joe Leydon

The 84-year-old icon and his musician sons weigh in on never-ending road adventures and secrets to staying on top of his game for decades.

Willie Nelson arguably is the most energetic octogenarian in country music. But even he admits that aging into the role of gray eminence has its downside. Indeed, the celebrated Red Headed Stranger repeatedly addresses the subject throughout God’s Problem Child, his most recent album, which Rolling Stone writer Jeff Gage aptly and admiringly described as Nelson’s “stark, honest, sometimes bleak, and often funny look at mortality and the specter of his own death.”

In “Old Timer,” one of the album’s most poignantly melancholy cuts, Nelson sings: “One by one, your friends have crossed over. You pray for mercy and a few more days. Still got dreams inside your head. Some days it’s a struggle just to get out of bed.”

On the other hand: Don’t assume he’s looking to quit cheating the reaper anytime soon. Another album cut, “Still Not Dead,” which Nelson co-wrote with Buddy Cannon, comically insists that reports of his impending demise are way too premature. “The internet said I had passed away,” but pay that no mind. “I run up and down the road, making music as I go. They say my pace would kill a normal man. But I’ve never been accused of being normal anyway. And I woke up still not dead again today.”

So there.

Listening to those lyrics, I was reminded of the day in April 2015 when I got to hang out in Luck, Texas?—?the faux Old West town Nelson maintains on his ranch near Austin?—?and watch while the Country Music Hall of Famer and occasional actor filmed Waiting for the Miracle to Come, a still-unreleased indie feature co-starring Charlotte Rampling. Even then, mortality was on Nelson’s mind. But not so seriously that he couldn’t shrug it off.

“Honestly, and I mean this sincerely, I do 150 shows a year or whatever, and we do some recording in there, and we do a movie here and there, or a video,” Nelson told me after wrapping up the day’s shooting. “And I’m always amazed that I wake up the next day feeling good and ready to go do it again. I’m 82 years old, so that’s kind of a miracle in itself.”

Nelson is now 84. And judging from a recent TV interview he did in Luck with veteran CBS newsman (and, not incidentally, longtime country music aficionado) Bob Schieffer, he continues to feel pretty dang miraculous.

“Everything’s going good,” Nelson told Schieffer. “I think age is just a number. It’s the way 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.” Laughing, he added: “I haven’t really got anything to bitch about!”

In other words, life is good. And as anyone who knows anything about Willie Nelson can tell you?—?go ahead, cue the “On the Road Again” lyrics?—?the life he loves is making music with his friends. He’ll be doing just that, again, this summer as the headliner of the Outlaw Music Festival Tour, a multi-genre traveling concert that kicks off July 1 in New Orleans, and continues on to Dallas (July 2); Rogers, Arkansas (July 6); Detroit (July 8); Milwaukee (July 9); and Syracuse, New York (July 16). Among the rotating array of artists who’ll be joining Nelson: Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, The Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket?—?and Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson, who’ll be performing with his father and his own band, Promise of the Real.

Lukas, whose group has also toured with Neil Young, says that he has learned from his father some invaluable lessons about sustaining his enthusiasm, and his sanity, while on the road for lengthy stretches. “Exercise is important,” he says. (Willie Nelson, it should be noted, celebrated his 81st birthday by earning his fifth-degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yusul, a Korean martial arts discipline.) “And having a routine that you stick to really helps you keep your head on straight. When you’re on the road, all your surroundings are changing all the time, and it can feel chaotic. You can lose your sense of balance. So you need to have a set routine: You wake up, you work out a little bit, you go to sound check, you kind of do the same thing every day. And that really helps.”

These days, Willie Nelson’s sons Micah (pictured in black) and Lukas (in plaid) often tour with their dad and play with him onstage. Photography: Ebet Roberts/Getty Images

Also?—?and don’t try this at home, kids?—?there is an occasional indulgence that has famously worked for Willie Nelson.

“You try and keep it pretty mellow,” Lukas concedes. “And weed is pretty mellow. … But that’s pretty much the only thing he does. He doesn’t drink. And he also keeps his family around him. He makes sure he’s got good folks around him that don’t sap his energy too much. They give him inspiration.”

Another musically inclined Nelson offspring, Micah Nelson, also tours with Dad when he isn’t busy with his own endeavors. (In addition to sometimes playing with Promise of the Real, he divides his time between the group Insects vs Robots and, more recently, his “experimental musical identity,” Particle Kid.) Last year, when he recorded a cover of Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side,” he updated the classic protest song with slightly altered lyrics to make it more relevant to contemporary events. It’s an approach, he says, partially inspired by his father’s willingness to keeps things fresh by mixing things up while on tour.

“For the most part,” Micah says, “it’s been kind of the same show for decades now. But at the same time, he never plays the same show twice. It’s always like he’s playing it for the first time. He’ll throw in new songs. He’ll kind of skip verses. He’ll extend things. He keeps it fresh every night.” If you’re performing with him, “You’re never allowed to just be phoning it in. He’s never going through the motions?—?even though he’s basically doing the same show.

“That spontaneity, that energy, that sense of anything can happen at any minute is not only what keeps an audience captivated, and keeps them coming to the shows night after night. It also keeps you engaged, and keeps the band engaged. It keeps every show fresh and different and unique.”

Echoing his brother Lukas, Micah says that, while on the road, his father “finds his routines. He likes to play chess and poker. He likes to smoke cannabis, and he likes to watch western films. He keeps the news on most of the time. He has his bike out on the road, so he’ll ride his bike around if he can and try to stay fit.

“I think there’s something that seems to be in our blood, where if we’re home long enough, we’re antsy and restless, and we need to get back on the road. Then, if you’re on the road long enough, it’s really great to come home and just chill and not think about playing shows for a minute. It’s kind of this symbiotic relationship between the road and being at home. They bleed into one another.”

Photography: James Minchin/Courtesy Shock Ink

Willie Nelson has told me that, yes, he truly does appreciate downtime on his ranch. On a typical day there, “I go look at my horses. I can look at the weather. There’s a lot of beautiful things out here to see.” But after a while, he can’t resist the siren call of the road because, well, he’s still not dead.

“There’s a certain kind of energy exchange that takes place in a concert no matter who it is, me or whoever,” Nelson believes. “People pay money to come see it, and for some reason, they usually all are clapping their hands, and they’re singing. And for some reason, I enjoy it too. When we can all get together and exchange that good positive energy, it makes for a good show.

“Yeah, you know, you look around and you don’t see too many guys out here as old as I am still doing one-nighters and still enjoying it. Still having good crowds. So, yeah, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.”

And he remains thankful to the folks who have made it all possible.

“Willie reminds me of Walter Cronkite,” Schieffer says. “When people used to ask me what Walter was really like, I always said, ‘He’s just the way you want him to be.’ He was without question the most famous and recognized man in America?—?but he always had time for the folks who wanted an autograph or a handshake. That’s Willie.”

Schieffer recalls that after wrapping up their Luck conversation, Nelson “didn’t know we were following him, but we wanted a picture of him leaving. So we went down to the place where the bus was waiting to take him to the next show. Now keep in mind: He had been up past midnight doing a show the night before, he was dead tired and had a six-hour bus ride ahead of him. But as he was getting on the bus, a guy appeared out of nowhere with three or four items to sign. And then he asked Nelson for a selfie. Most celebrities would have brushed the guy off. But as tired as he was, and as anxious as he was to get going, Willie stood there, talked to the guy, signed all the stuff, and took three or four pictures. Finally his wife made him get on the bus.

“I love the guy. When I asked him when he was going to retire, he said, ‘All I do is play golf and music. Why would I want to quit either of those things?’ Pretty good philosophy.”


From the July 2017 issue.

 

Willie Nelson and family in Life Magazine (August 1983)

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Life Magazine (8/83)
Photography: Harry Benson
Text: Cheryl McCall

“I’ve about forgotten what a private life is,” says Willie Nelson, padding around his kitchen with a mug of tea. “But when I really want to get away, this is the santuary.”

Here, 40 miles outside Denver, a contented Nelson is secluded with his wife, Connie, and their daughters, Paula and Amy. In the largest of four houses on a 122-acre spread. (One house is an office, the others for rare guests.) The Nelsons’ family life is anchored here; it’s where the girls go to school (public).

But they have another big house near Austin, Texas., site of the country superstar’s personal recording studio. During the summer, Connie and the kids adopt a gypsy lifestyle to keep up with the perapathetic. Willie., who, at 50, shows no sign of setting a more sensible pace. He logs over 200 days a year on the road for as much as $500,000 per concert, and often takes his family along in a customized bus.

“The kids don’t mind the traveling because it’s all they’ve ever known,” says Connie. When she married Willie in 1971, she recalls, “We had to search for pennies before we could go to the grocery store.” In the years since, the royalties form a dozen gold and six platinum albums have made them land barons.

Besides their two “hideouts,” they own a 400-acre ranch in Utah, a 200-acre farm near Nashville and two houses in Hawaii. Their holdings in the Austin area include a 44-acre ranch, an 80-unit town-house complex, the 1, 700-seat Austin Opry House, a motel and a small catfish restaurant called Mona’s.

“That’s a lot of doorknobs,” Nelson says with some satisfaction. What’s it all worth? “It would take a week of inventorying to figure that out,” says his business manager. Recently the Nelsons’s gave LIFE a first-ever look at their homes in Colorado and Texas.

“The most important thing I do for Willie is make sure he gets rest. He doesn’t even realize when he’s running himself into the ground,” says Connie, soaking with her old man in their king-size tub. “I keep the people to a minimum, or before we know it, our time together is gone.”

“When I have time off the road, I try to split it between Colorado and Texas,” says Nelson. To shuttle back and forth, he bought a $1.7 million, seven-passenger Learjet this winter. “The plane makes a difference,” says Paula. “Dad gets home more, and we go to Texas a lot when we’re not in school.”

West of Austin, the family as an eight-room house overlooking the 775 acre Pedernales Country Club, which Nelson owns outright and permits his band, staff and friends to use. His clubhouse office, filled with tapes, awards and a six-foot feathered headdress given him by an Oklahoma Indian tribe, is next to his state-of-the-art recording studio. “I like being able to go in there in the middle of the night,” he says. When fellow muscicians drop by, the beer and tequila flow.

“It can be a continuous party,” Connie sighs. “When one set of people gets worn out, there’s another set ready to go. But there’s only one Willie.” In Austin, Nelson also does some fatherly fence-mending with his children by his first marriage. (Lana, 29, Susie, 27, and Billy, 26, live nearby.) “I was too busy trying to pay the rent when they were small,” he says. “I spend more time with them and my six grandkids now than I ever did before. I like being a father.”

Willie Nelson in Cowboys & Indians Magazine

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Again.

Willie Nelson is featured on the cover of Septembers 2008’s Cowboys and Indians magazine, which features an article about Willie by Joe Nick Patoski, who wrote:  “Willie Nelson:  An Epic Life.”

He’s a cowboy and an Indian. Maybe the ultimate Cowboy and Indian, even.  Of the many things I’ve learned about Willie Nelson over the course of three decades of writing about him, those two qualities say a whole lot about the musician and the man. His cowboyness came both naturally and through fantasy.

He grew up in the town of Abbott in rural Hill County, Texas, just north of Waco and a few miles east of the Chisholm Trail. In Abbott, even poor town people like the Nelsons raised stock, although in their case, the Nelsons were so poor, little Willie Hugh rode the family cow, Reddy, before he rode a horse. As a boy he was active in Future Farmers of America, where he learned to castrate bulls and twice won the FFA Sweetheart of the Year award in high school. He even briefly pondered a career in agriculture.

More significantly, like most other kids of his age, he was smitten with watching cowboy movies at the picture show, in his case the Best in West or the Ritz in Hillsboro.