Archive for the ‘Magazines’ Category

Why Willie Nelson’s Still Cool, by Joe Nick Patoski (April 2003) (Texas Monthly)

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Why Willie’s Still Cool
by Joe Nick Patoski
A Texas Monthly Magazine Tribute to Willie!
April 2003

Ever since I was a kid, when his grinning visage first flickered at me over the black-and-white on Channel 11 live from Panther Hall, in Fort Worth, Willie Nelson has been a fixture in my life. I swear I heard him introducing 45’s when he was a disc jockey on KCNC-AM, my first exposure to country and western music. Like him, I saw the neon Stars and Stripes that once flew over the Tarrant County courthouse at night. Like him, I was moved by the blind couple who sold pencils in front of Leonards Department Store downtown (Willie paid tribute to them by writing “Pretty Paper,” the best Texas Christmas song ever). Growing up in Texas back then, you couldn’t help but hear Faron Young’s recording of “Hello Walls” and Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” jukebox staples that never went away; Willie wrote the lyrics of both songs. When I finally met him fact to face in the offices of KOKE-FM, in Austin, the station that revolutionized radio by playing a brand new mix of music called progressive country. I remember thinking that he was unlike any musician — any person, for that matter — I’d ever seen or heard.

Who’d have guessed that after all these records, picnics, scandals, and road miles later, he’d still be so much in his prime? At a time when his peers have either hightailed it to Branson or are being wheeled out onstage to show they’re still alive, Willie’s till Willie — on the road again, on the bus again, worthy of tribute songs and accolades and whatever else you can throw at him.

Which raises the question: What keeps him going? What makes Willie Willie, who turns seventy on April 30, more of an icon that ever? Everyone has his opinion. Willie surely has his own. Here’s mine.

He’s a family man. Four marriages and what can be charitably described as an unconventional lifestyle explain why a lot of people thing Willie and family values don’t go together.  They’re wrong. He’s the epitome of family. It’s not just that he’s a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather or that his sister plays piano in his band or that his eldest daughter goes out on the road with him and writes the band’s official Web site diary (  Not for nothing is his band called Willie Nelson and Family; they’ve stayed together longer than most blood relations. His steadfast followers are likewise called family. To them, he’s more than a star; he’s a combination of daddy, patron, sage, boss man, fearless leaders, beloved outlaw, and benevolent shepherd tending his flock.

He’s a uniter, not a divider. The original cosmic cowboy came to Austin and brought rednecks and freaks together, mainly because he’s a little of both (he was the first hippie I ever saw wearing a diamond pinkie ring). His audience today is the face of America, bringing together folks who’d never darken the same door — from baby boomers to yahoos, academics to convicts — and making them want to stay all night and a little longer.

He’s the Teflon Troubadour. From unpaid bar tabs and pistol down payments to high-dollar lawsuits and high-profile tax hassles, he has nimbly stepped around buckets of excrement without getting any on him in a manner unrivaled this side of Ronald Reagan. Think about it: In just ten years he seamlessly segued from IRS target to A-plus patriot, leading the likes of Tome Cruise and Julia Roberts in a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful” on the nationally televised post-9/11 telethon.

He’s loyal. It works in the White House. It works in the Mafia. And it works in Willie’s world, where the operating rule of thumb is Darrell Royal’s “Dance with the one who brung ya.” Following the first Willie Nelson Picnic, in Dripping Springs, he severed ties with the hippie crew from the Armadillo World Headquarters who’d helped put on the show after hearing one of them complain about his pal’s toting firearms backstage. “If my friends aren’t good enough for you,” Willie told them, “then I’m not good enough for you either.”

He’s an activist without being overly political. He championed small, independent farmers by starting Farm Aid, a no-brainer fit of inspired populism that pays back the culture he was part of growing up in Abbott. On almost the opposite end of the spectrum, he has had a thirty-year relationship with NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), making a public service announcement here and there. And he’s even raised money to rebuild the fire-damaged Hill County courthouse in Hillsboro. yes, he lends his name to causes, bu the causes don’t define him: his Williness transcends all controversy.

He’s a jack-of-all-trades. No one slides in and out of so many musical skins. He’s country as all-get-out, but he’s also a folkie for the ages, a great gospel artist (look no further than Family bible and Healing Hands of Time), a connoisseur of pop standards (Stardust is one of the best-selling albums of all time), and an organic-rocker who can take a jam on on a trip farther out than even . The Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead may have preceded him in their two-drummer setup, but only Willie Nelson’s band has sported two bass players as well. Reggae?  Been there (though the album has yet to be released). Sentimental schmultz? Done that (“On teh Sunny Side of the Street?) Dance times? Yes, thsoe were disco whistles you heard on a recent single, “Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me).” He has sung credible duets with Julio Iglesias, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Little Joe, Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt; B. B. King, Kid Rock, and Nora Jones.  Now that’s versatility.

He’s an extraordinary talent. He can jump from genre to genre so effortlessly because he’s so gifted musically — the greatest all-around Texas player born in the twentieth century. He writes songs that have   As a singer, he’s surpassed only by Sinatra.  He’s an American original, right up there with Hank, Miles, and Elvis.

He’s a crossover dream. unlike Mariah Carey and Madonna, he has managed to transition form music to movies (Honeysuckle Rose, Wag the Dog) and television (the edgy detective series Monk) without being ridiculed — mainly because he’s smart enough to play a version of himself, if not the real thing, and act naturally. What you see is what you get.

He’s Ours. Willie is Texas and Texas is Willie, pure and simple, no one represents the brand like he does. The spiritual descendant of Bob Willis, who blazed trails by welding together seemingly incompatible styles to invent western swing. Willie is responsible for birthing this think called Texas Music and taking Texas to the world. Bonus points for making red-bandanna headbands, braids and running shoe symbols of Texas culture.

He’s cool. He has lived a thousand lives and died a thousand deaths, having been wrongly written off more times than any other cat in showbiz. While he could be resting on laurels that include a discography ofmore than two hundred albums, he’s plahying 145 nights ayear, cranking out sets in excess of two hours, while on the side pitching booze (Old Whiskey River Kentucky Straight Bourbon), financial services (Frost Bank), and blue jeans (the Gap) in television commercials and on a billboard overlooking Broadway.

Wilie and blue jeans? Could there be a more perect match? It isn’t so much that the was made for them as they were made for him. And you can’t get any cooler than that.

[Joe Nick Patoski is author “Willie Nelson: An Epic Life,” among many other great documentaries on Texas music and history.  His latest is The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America”.

New Willie Nelson album, “God’s Problem Child” (Rolling Stone Review)

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
by:  Jeff Gage

Country’s ultimate survivor addresses mortality, both humorously and poignantly, on introspective new LP.

Listening to a new Willie Nelson album with a set of fresh ears is almost impossible to do in 2017 – and Nelson knows it. Hovering over all news regarding the Red Headed Stranger are worries about the health of the country icon, who turns 84 on April 29th. So he decided to make the elephant in the room – his own mortality – the focal point of his new LP, God’s Problem Child.


Nelson’s first album since his 2015 collaboration with Merle Haggard, Django & Jimmie – the Hag’s final album before his own death – God’s Problem Child is a stark, honest, sometimes bleak, and often funny look at mortality and the specter of his own death. It may not be a concept album, but that grim reality is writ large on nearly every song.

That doesn’t mean God’s Problem Child makes for heavy listening. Nelson brings not only his distinctive sense of humor to the proceedings, but also an appreciation for the moments that he has left, and those individual glimpses of beauty leave a lasting impression. Here’s our track-by-track guide to the new album, which arrives April 28th.

“Little House On the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
The opening track on God’s Problem Child is its jauntiest, and also its most heartwarming, written by Lyndel Rhodes, the 92-year-old mother of Buddy Cannon, the producer and songwriter who co-wrote half the songs on the album. A video of a joyous Rhodes hearing Nelson sing her song for the first time went viral last fall, and the comforting memories of “Little House on the Hill,” a reimagining of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” carry an end-of-days undercurrent that sets the tone for the album.

“Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
Nelson confronts those end of days head on in “Old Timer,” a mournful, piano-driven ballad that ruminates on the ravages of time – and how time is leaving Nelson behind. “You’ve had your run / and it’s been a good one,” goes the opening line, as though to console the listener before the bad news to come about the “old timer” who thinks he’s “still a young bull rider.” Nelson’s vocal – quivering and frail, thoughtful and proud – is the first of many stellar ones on the record, conveying every ounce of that life well lived.

“True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Even on the cusp of his 84th birthday, Nelson remains a hopeless romantic. The first writing credit for the Red Headed Stranger on God’s Problem Child, “True Love” is his fire-and-brimstone vision of never giving up hope. But love alone is no salvation: “I’ll go to hell believing true love is still my friend,” he sings, his optimism both a blessing and a curse, his memories – and even his mortal coil – a “prison.” Hopeless, indeed.

“Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Much of God’s Problem Child focuses on the personal, but “Delete and Fast Forward” is Nelson’s bemused look at the political world around him, a winner-take-nothing appraisal of today’s mess in the White House. “The truth is the truth, but believe what you choose,” he sings, shrugging at the alternative facts that could make a mushroom cloud feel like a sordid punchline. But even if he’d rather get a fresh start and skip to the next scene, Nelson sees history repeating itself: “We had a chance to be brilliant and we blew it again,” he laments.

“A Woman’s Love” (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
Once again, Nelson’s own weathered voice is his greatest, most expressive tool on “A Woman’s Love,” the flip side to the tortured romantic visions of “True Love.” His singing is deep and gruff, conjuring the darkest, most sensual of passions. Accented by fragmented Spanish guitar lines and a wailing harmonica solo, “A Woman’s Love” is a love letter to womankind, but also a cautionary tale – Nelson’s most profound bit of wisdom to impart to his younger self.

“Your Memory Has a Mind” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
If your memory had ears they’d be burning,” Nelson sings on the bridge of this playful tune, which breaks from the heavy tone of God’s Problem Child‘ss other love songs. Yes, he might not be able to control those memories of the one that got away (even smoking and drinking won’t help), but there’s a comic relief in the tortured fate that he finds himself in: “If your memory had a heart, it’d leave me alone,” Nelson sings, knowing full well that it won’t.

“Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
Coming at the midpoint of the album, this tender ballad by Sonny Throckmorton and Mark Sherrill, underpinned by noodling electric guitar work, turns Nelson’s eye away from his own life and toward that of the natural world. Yet, not exactly: As he ponders the beautiful butterfly flitting in and out of his view, Nelson is contemplating several things at once, like the delicacy and impenetrability of love or the fleeting nature of life itself.

“Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Nelson has never been as darkly funny as he is on “Still Not Dead,” a song that he co-wrote with Cannon. Even the self-referential humor of 2012’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” has nothing on the caustic black comedy of this song, in which the Red Headed Stranger pokes fun at the constant rumors about his impending death – some, even, that he’s already kicked the bucket. “I woke up still not dead again today,” he croons, all but apologizing for the fact that the rumors aren’t true. Nelson, however, insists that he’s just too busy to die: “I’ve got a show to play.”

“God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
Death may be something that Nelson can poke fun at, but it’s still no laughing matter – and the title track to God’s Problem Child drives that point home. It’s the only song with guest vocalists, with one coming from beyond the grave: “God’s Problem Child” is believed to be the final song that Leon Russell ever recorded before his death last November. Russell’s passing only adds more heft to this soulful track, which also features Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, and it marks a thematic turning point as the album heads into the closing stretch.

“It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Several of the songs on God’s Problem Child have been premiered with black-and-white videos of Nelson performing them in the studio with his trusty guitar, Trigger. None, however, are as sweet, as plaintive, or defiant as “It Gets Easier,” the most simple and tender ballad on the album. “I don’t have to do one damn thing that I don’t want to do,” he insists, a man who’s learned to be completely comfortable in his own skin and live on his own terms. But there’s a catch: “Except for missing you / and that won’t go away.”

“Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Life is a fickle thing, and few people appreciate that more than Nelson. With each passing year, he becomes more of a last man standing as more of his friends and partners in crime pass away. Whatever the reason, Nelson is the outlaw who gets to ride off into the sunset. Waylon, Merle, Leon – their luck all ran out before his, and Nelson is pretty sure Lady Luck is on his side. “I’ll bet you a hundred, if you still got a hundred,” he sings, ready to lay his fortune on the line one more time. It’s all or nothing.

“I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Steel guitar dominates this benediction of a tune, in which Nelson looks back on a life of living by his own rules and admits he may not have done everything right. “I made a mistake: I thought I was wrong,” goes his repentance. He name-checks Jesus, Elvis and Ripley (of Believe It or Not! fame) in the chorus, trying to rationalize his behavior to each, but in the end, he knows his stumbles are all his own. “So if anyone’s praying, a request I would make / is to mention my name, cause I made a mistake.”

“He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)
God’s Problem Child saves its most heartbreaking song for last: Nelson’s tribute to his best friend, Merle Haggard. “Got the news this morning / Knew it’d be a tough day,” goes the opening couplet, as Nelson recalls hearing word of Hag’s death on April 6th, 2016. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” chronicles the pair’s friendship while mixing in references to Haggard’s best-known songs, but it’s really a shared story involving two giants. As with most of the album, the emotional core of the song, written by Gary Nicholson, lies in what isn’t said — that while Lady Luck may have smiled on Nelson, he misses his larger-than-life friends. After all, even giants are mortal.

We Love Willie Nelson

Friday, April 21st, 2017


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.

Dallas Senior’s Guide 2017

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Thanks to my anonymous friend who sent me a picture of their Dallas Senior Guide they got in the mail today.

Yeah, thanks to Steve Brooks, aka my anonymous friend! I really did not know who sent it to me! Thanks, Steve.

Listen up, Cowboys: Rodeo Houston 2017

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The restoration of traditional country to the lineup is easily the rodeo’s biggest course correction this year. In 2016, when the artists with the most seniority were Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley, the rodeo drew some criticism for its lack of, shall we say, vintage entertainers; attendance also dipped about 1,500 fans per show compared with 2015, when the rodeo set a new total concert-attendance record of 1.4 million fans. This year, both the throwback-sounding Stapleton and Alan Jackson, who will play his 22nd rodeo on March 11, have already gone to standing-room only. And even that pales against the demand for Willie Nelson.

At press time, only season tickets and suites remained for the 83-year-old singer’s March 18 show. Speaking to the concerns over Nelson’s health after the illness-related cancellation of a handful of dates earlier in the year, Kane says he recently spoke with the singer’s agent, who assured him the Red Headed Stranger is feeling much better: “All is well, we believe, in Willie’s world.”

“We absolutely are counting on Willie being here with us 110 percent and ready to go,” he adds.
Indeed, Nelson rebounded to play the San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo on February 16, when he debuted a new song called “Still Not Dead.” Kane says he’s a little surprised at the heavy demand for Nelson’s tenth appearance, but then again he isn’t.

“I mean, he’s an icon,” he says. “He’s a Texas icon. At a rodeo. At the largest rodeo in the world. I mean, all of that to me [is] perfect logic.”

“The only thing I would say about Willie is it’s no surprise that Willie did good, but it was a big surprise to me that he did so good,” adds Dan Cheney, the rodeo’s chief operating officer. “That’s probably been the biggest surprise of my career so far, to see him be the leader in this pack that we have, this group of artists. Like Jason says, it speaks to the diversity of our audience.”

“Those braids just beg to be unbraided.” — Playgirl Magazine

Monday, February 27th, 2017



Willie Nelson at 65

Friday, February 24th, 2017


y Gary Cartwright
Texas Monthly
April 1998

I first met Willie Nelson on August 12, 1972, a few hours before his first gig at the Armadillo World Headquarters, in Austin. Both of us were in our late thirties and relatively new to psychedelics and long hair. A couple of friends and I were in the small office that the Armadillo had set aside for Mad dog, Inc., a shadowy organization that Bud Shrake and I had founded at roughly that same time. Artist Jim Franklin was decorating a wall of the Mad Dog office with a portrait of a crazed Abe Lincoln when we spotted Willie and the band across the hall.

I didn’t recognize him at first. I had been a fan since 1966, when Don Meredith handed me a copy of Willie’s album that was recorded live at Panther Hall in Fort Worth. The album cover pictured a straight-looking country singer with short hair and a bad suit. He clutched a guitar, but from his looks it could have easily been a pipe wrench.

Willie was different now. His hair fell almost to his shoulders, and though he was still clean-shaven and passably middle class, he was obviously undergoing a metamorphosis. “I saw a lot of people with long hair that day,” Willie recalls. “People in jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, basically what I grew up wearing. I remember thinking: ‘F— coats and ties! Let’s get comfortable!'”

The real eye-opener for me came that night. Who in his right mind could have predicted that the same audience that got turned on by B.B. King and Jerry Garcia would also go nuts for Willie Nelson? This Abbott cotton picker had merged blues, rock, and country into something altogether original and evocative.

Jenna Bush and Willie Nelson in San Antonio

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
by:  Jenna Bush Hagar

Dearest Willie,

Do you know how much we love you? Let me count the ways.

You were a vital part of the soundtrack to our childhood. Your deep, soulful sound still reminds me of road trips to the lake, and evenings spent dancing at our ranch.

It seemed almost destined that we would meet in San Antonio–Texas a place we both adore–on Valentine’s week.

Thanks for hosting me in Honeysuckle Rose (your bus!). Talking with you about your childhood in Abbot, Texas; the music you have written, friends you lost this year (Merle Haggard and Leon Russel). It was everything I had hoped it would be.

And your show! Your music, your voice still as good as when I saw you 15-years-ago. You made one homesick Texan, very. Very. Happy



Souther Living
Spring Style
March 2013

“Jenna, the younger sister — by a minute — is an editor-at-large of the magazine, as well as a “Today” correspondent.

On Friday’s show, she shared her own praise for her big sister.

“They (wrote) ‘She greets everyone with her warm smile and those bright blue eyes.’ And I said, ‘Anyone who meets Barbara adores her,’” she said.

The NBC correspondent also dished that despite her city living, she is raising her children with strong Southern values.

“I want my kids to be kind. I want them to put others before themselves,” she said.

Hager has two daughters, Margaret and Poppy.

“I also want them to know about Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers and Johnny Cash – of course Aunt Dolly. We always dance around the house to Dolly Parton,”


Willie Nelson in Goldmine

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Thanks, Phil Weisman, for sharing this vintage Goldmine magazine cover.

Fighting for Farmers, (Bio) Fuel, and Hemp, Willie Nelson is Still Rolling (Austin Fit, Nov. 2012)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017


by: Brian Fitzsimmons

November 2012

Driving into Willie Nelson’s ranch, off Highway 71 northwest of Austin, is like driving onto a movie set. Actually, it is a movie set; it’s been used in commercials, films, and TV spots. Cars leave dusty clouds behind as they wind around dirt roads right into the middle of an Old West town, a “main street” complete with saloon, church, and other buildings as well as corrals of horses. Inside the saloon, the wooden floorboards are uneven in places—they probably make a cool cowboy noise with your steps if you wear boots. But running shoes navigate the terrain just as well, which is what Willie Nelson had on, with workout shorts and a tee shirt, as he and his wife, Annie, welcomed guests into the saloon. A bar runs along one side, with a large flat-screen TV at the opposite end where FOX news was on but muted. The walls are decorated with old posters and photos, many signed by the legends in the photos with Nelson. In addition to a pool table, there is a round poker table, with chips and cards at the ready. Comfortable swivel chairs—on wheels that can get stuck in the uneven floorboards—surround the table. Nelson leans back in one and Annie perches on a bar stool behind him.

A few weeks prior to visiting with Austin Fit Magazine, Nelson had had to leave Colorado where he was on tour.

“Oh [my health is] all right,” he said. “I smoked cigarettes. I drank quite a bit. Emphysema.”

“You go up to altitude,” Annie interjected.

“And I woke up and I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “But other than that I’m in pretty good shape.” At 79, Nelson is a second degree black belt in tae kwon do.

“I ran to stay in shape,” he said. “You remember Charles Atlas and dynamic tension; it’s what Bruce Lee does. So I noticed a comparison between mental, physical, spiritual evolution. I think martial arts are one of the best things a person can get into. Back in Nashville, I got into kung fu; kicking and gauging. We used to go out and sign up kids to take kung fu lessons. It was a heck of a lot of fun.”

In terms of diet, the Nelsons “eat clean” and get their food from local farmers’ markets when they are on the road.

“I eat six times a day,” he said. He eats bacon, eggs, and potatoes.

“Look, it actually works,” Annie said. “It matters that it’s clean.” She makes a point to know the source of the foods they eat, rather than just buying whatever is in a store.

“The food that turns into energy,” Nelson said. “I grew up on eggs and potatoes. I can get by on [that]. If there’s some greens out there, that’s good. But that’s what I eat. Biscuits and gravy if you’ve got it.”

“For 25 years, Farm Aid has been [helping local farmers],” said Nelson, wasting no time diving into the subject he and his wife are passionate about. “And we’re still losing a lot of farms. At one time we had eight million family farmers; now we’ve got less than a half a million.” Nelson said the change is mostly in the Farm Belt, an area generally defined as the Midwest and central plains of the United States.

The family farmers are struggling because of the drought and because of the competition from what Annie Nelson termed “industrial ag.”

“Look at your food in the morning for breakfast,” Nelson said. “Most everything you’re eating came from 1,500 miles away when it could have been grown right over there. Get a local farmer to grow your bacon and eggs and your chickens, whatever you need in your garden. But trucking it 1,500 miles does a lot of damage to the environment and the price and everything. So sustainable, local agriculture is what Annie’s involved in a lot, and us too.”

“The U.S. is the only place that doesn’t have some sort of ban on GMO or control over GMO or labeling on GMO,” Annie said. (GMO is the acronym for genetically modified organism). “They have a terminator seed…they’ve patented something that’s a plant,” she said, referring to Monsanto, the herbicide and seed conglomerate.

“A farmer can’t keep his seeds from this year and use them again next year like he used to,” Nelson said. In addition to the genetically modified seeds which the company prohibits customers from saving from year to year, Monsanto, an American multinational agricultural biotechnology company, also makes pesticides which, according to Nelson, farmers are required to use.

“If I’m a farmer and I go to the bank and I want to borrow some money to do my crop next year, they’ll say, ‘Well, okay, but you’ve got to put so much pesticide, so much chemical, so much fertilizer on each acre or we’re not going to loan you the money. That way we know you’re going to get enough yield to pay us back.’”

“It’s really wrong,” Annie said, referring to Monsanto’s seed patent protection practices. She referenced the famous case of Percy Schmeiser v Monsanto which has become the iconic story of an agricultural David versus Goliath. Schmeiser, a Canadian farmer, was sued by Monsanto for having used their seeds without paying for them. Schmeiser held that the seeds had blown over from another farm; he had always been an organic farmer and not only didn’t use GMO seeds, he didn’t want them contaminating his fields. Over a decade later, after an appellate court battle, instead of paying Monsanto the $400,000 they said he owed, Monsanto paid him $660, which was the cost of removing Monsanto’s “Roundup ready” canola oil seeds from his land.

On its website, Monsanto has a page titled “Why Does Monsanto Sue Farmers who Save Seeds?” The company states that, “Since 1997, we have only filed suit against farmers 145 times in the United States.” The statement points out that Monsanto has patented seeds and “spends more than $2.6 million per day in research and development.” The statement continues with tautological explanations of the link between a company’s patents and revenue.

Monsanto has developed a seed that is resistant to Roundup, a powerful herbicide also sold by Monsanto. According to a June 2003 article in Scientific American, “Until now, most health studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate [the active ingredient in Roundup], rather than the mixture of ingredients found in Roundup. But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.“

“It went from weaponry to the food we eat,” said Ronda Rutledge, Executive Director of the Sustainable Food Center in Austin. Rutledge was commenting on Monsanto, a maker of Agent Orange, which, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, is “a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed from 1962 to 1971 during Operation Ranch Hand in the Vietnam War to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover.”

“The manufacturing companies [making Agent Orange] included Diamond Shamrock Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, Hercules, Inc., T-H Agricultural & Nutrition Company, Thompson Chemicals Corporation, Uniroyal Inc. and Monsanto Company, which at the time was a chemical manufacturer. Monsanto manufactured Agent Orange from 1965 to 1969,” according to Monsanto’s website.

The big issue, and the focus of worldwide “Occupy Monsanto” events in September 2012, is about labeling GMO foods. Proposition 37 (read the text at is on the November 6 ballot in California and is being watched very closely by farmers, grocers, and consumers around the country because, as Rutledge said, “Many times, as California goes, so goes the country.” Her question, and the question of many organic and sustainable farm advocates and health-conscious consumers is, “If [GMO foods] aren’t bad, then why not tell us what’s in [them]?”

The battle heated up over the summer with Monsanto spending $4.2 million to defeat California’s Proposition 37, according to Truthout, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to providing independent news and commentary on a daily basis.” The Sacramento Bee newspaper characterized the situation as “a battle between organic farmers and food manufacturers on one side and, on the other, conventional grocery store brands and the biotech companies that make some of their ingredients.” The paper listed parent companies for Cheerios, Chef Boyardee, Nestle, Coke, and Pepsi, as well as Monsanto, DuPont, and Bayer that make pesticides and genetically modified seeds as those on the “no” side that had raised $32.5 million. On the organic side, the paper listed manufacturers including Lundberg’s, Nature’s Path, Clif Bar, and Amy’s Kitchen who have raised $4.3 million in support of the proposition. Whole Foods endorsed the proposition, but most grocery stores are opposed. It is a heated topic.

“I’m not willing to kill my child,” said Annie. “It’s not just low energy [food], it’s toxic. I need to know [what’s in the food I feed my family]. It’s still not okay. It seems to be more expensive [to buy organic produce]. … As long as it’s poor people, there will be poor kids dying. We need to force [GMO producers] to label the fruit,” Annie said. “When you educate people, they don’t mind spots on their [organic] food. Why would you give your kid a piece of fruit that even a bug wouldn’t want to eat?”

In addition to their opposition of GMOs and “industrial ag,” the Nelsons are also active in supporting alternatives to petroleum and petrochemical-based products. Their buses and trucks run on biodiesel.

“The diesel engine was invented to run on peanut oil,” Annie explained. “It was modified to be able to use petroleum-based diesel fuel.” They get their biodesel from a variety of sources. “We get it from restaurants,” she said. “We haul it back to the plant.” The oil used in fryers at restaurants can be used for biodiesel fuel rather than being thrown out after use. “That oil would end up in landfills or animals.”

“There’s no need to go around starting wars for oil,” Nelson said.

Nelson has formed Willie Nelson Biodiesel Company to distribute his own blend of biodiesel fuel called BioWillie. It’s available at various locations in Texas and along the Eastern Seaboard.

“We’re talking about doing something on the Lincoln highway, 180, as you move from San Francisco to New York,” he said. “The government wants to make that a biodiesel highway. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway and they’re trying to do the whole highway with alternative fuel, which is a great idea. And build plants along the way. They have the government supporting that so we’re going to do a tour there. We’re going to get Neil Young to start it out in San Francisco and bring it on. And we’ll get Jimmy Johnson or Luke [Bryan] somewhere along the way. Vegas along the way. We’ll do a final one in either New York or Washington and promote the whole thing with biodiesel.”

“The Obama administration facilitated it,” Annie said. “This has been a while, so now from Times Square to Lincoln Park in San Fancisco you can get a minimum of B20 on a trip.”

“We’re trying to coordinate it with my 80th birthday,” Nelson said, “which is April 30 next year. Somewhere along the way we’ll do a birthday bash, try to tie it all together.

Nelson is known for his support of hemp, and he notes that drafts of the Declaration of Independence were likely written on hemp. Much of the paper used in the 18th century was made of hemp, as well as sails, rope, and many other products.

“Anything that used to be made of hemp is now made out of chemicals,” he said. “There’s a huge push and drive in the States to bring back hemp. You can buy the material. You can bring the seed. There’s a huge market we’re not getting any money from, and it’s not just the drug. There’s a lot more involved.”

In addition to his music and activism, Willie Nelson has written a new memoir which will hit shelves November 13, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, from William Morris Publishers.

What would Willie like Austin Fit Magazine readers to know? “Family farmers kick ass. Find your farmer, not sharecroppers that grow for Monsanto.”

Published on Nov 1, 2012
Austin Fit Magazine joins Willie Nelson on his ranch off of HWY 71.

Read the article: Fighting for Farmers, (Bio) Fuel, and Hemp, Willie Nelson is Still Rolling

Video Production by Amy Johnson

Writing about Willie Nelson (Judy Redditt)

Sunday, February 12th, 2017


Read Judy’s article here.

Thank you so much to Judy Redditt, for sharing her stories.  You can read the Country Song Roundup article HERE.

“This takes me back. Willie was a good friend. I really enjoyed sitting down with Willie from time to time and just talking. I wrote several articles with him, but it was the stories that weren’t published that I loved the most. The ” road stories” that had me rolling on the floor, the stories behind the songs, and the family stories.

Jeannie Seely was my roommate for several years, and the only reason we stopped being roommates was that she left to marry Hank Cochran. Hank was at our apartment much of the time and he would often bring his buddies with him. I was always delighted when he brought Willie. They would sing and often bring out their latest new song they had written. I was privileged to hear so many of the classics in their infancy or shortly after they were finished.

I loved the songs that both Hank and Willie wrote and bugged Ray Price to record them, since Ray was my favorite singer of all time. Nobody had better control of their voice or could put more feeling into a song, or sang more beautifully than Ray. It got to the point that when he came into town to record, he would call me to ” find me the songs for this album, and have them by tomorrow.” All I generally had to do was look at Hank and Willie’s catalogs.

I picked a lot of songs for Ray, and one of them, NOT written by Hank or Willie, turned out to be the biggest of his career. Bonnie Guitar had been in town, and we were hanging out together. She was getting ready to record and was looking for songs. One night, we were in her hotel room and Kris Kristopherson and Mickey Newberry came to sing her some of their songs. Kris sang a song that night that I heard Ray singing in my mind. Ray had called me a few days before and told me to be on the look out for some songs for him, he would be in the next week to record. I asked Kris for a copy of the song, and of course, he wanted to know who I was taking it to. I told him just to get it for me and I would tell him who it was for later. The next day, Kris gave me a demo of the song and when Ray got to Nashville the following week, I gave him the demo of “For The Good Times”. The rest is music history. I went to work for Pamper Music as P.R Directer and the company was owned by Willie and Ray Price at the time, so for the time I worked there, I had my two favorite singers of all time as my boss’.

Talk about the ideal job! It afforded me the opportunity to hear Willie’s stories, and Ray’s recordings, often and usually first hand. Stories from Willie like the one about the time he came home drunk, and passed out, only to wake up to find Shirley had sown him up in the bed sheet and was beating him up with the broom stick. It was while I was working there that Willie’s house burned down and being frustrated that no one in Nashville would let him make music his way, Willie decided to pull up stakes and return to Texas, and to do music ” his way.” Once again, music history was made. I could go on telling stories of those days, but I think I will save them for the book I plan to write. But I will say this, I am proud and happy to have formed a lasting friendship with one of the all time musical genius’, the awesome and amazing, Willie Nelson!”

— Judy Reddit

New Willie Nelson album, “God’s Problem Child”

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
by: Stephen L. Betts

For the first time in almost three years, Willie Nelson will release a collection of all-new material. God’s Problem Child, out April 28th, the day before the Country Music Hall of Famer turns 84 years old, includes seven songs co-penned by Nelson and his longtime collaborator and producer, Buddy Cannon. Closing the album is “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” written by Gary Nicholson as a tribute to the country legend’s longtime friend and frequent singing partner, Merle Haggard.

The LP’s title cut, co-written by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, includes vocals by both writers as well as Leon Russell, marking one of the musician’s final recordings before his death last November. In addition to recording together, Russell was the first person to affix his signature to “Trigger,” Nelson’s ubiquitous guitar.
The album’s opening cut, “Little House on the Hill,” was written by Lyndel Rhodes, Buddy Cannon’s 92-year-old mother. When video featuring Rhodes hearing Nelson sing her song for the first time hit the Internet last fall, it immediately went viral and has since racked up nearly one million views. Watch the video below.

Last month, Nelson shared the lyrics of another of the album’s tracks, the politically motivated “Delete and Fast Forward,” quoting a portion of the song’s chorus during a conversation with Rolling Stone:

“Delete and fast-forward, my friend/
The elections are over and nobody wins/
But don’t worry too much, you’ll go crazy again/
Delete and fast forward, my friend.”

He also jokes that the idea for a tune called “Still Not Dead” came from the fact that he is still not dead.

“I got up two or three times in the last couple of years and read the paper where I’d passed away,” he says. “So I just wanted to let ’em know that’s a lot of horseshit.”

The release of God’s Problem Child, which will be available on CD, 12″ vinyl LP and digitally, will be accompanied by the opportunity to packages that will include music, t-shirts and more, available via

The 11-time Grammy winner is nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. The Grammys air live February 12th on CBS.

God’s Problem Child track listing and songwriter credits:
1. “Little House on the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. “Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
3. “True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
4. “Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
5. “A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
6. “Your Memory Has a Mind Of Its Own” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
7. “Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
8. “Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
9. “God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
10. “It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
11. “Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
12. “I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
13. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)

Willie Nelson (People Magazine – Sept. 1, 1980)

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

People Magazine
September 1, 1980
by:  Cheryl McCall

Before he ever imagined the high life, the whiskey nights and the bloody mary mornings to follow, Willie Nelson yearned for the road and it’s promise of freedom. As a Texas schoolboy, chopping cotton for $1.50 a day, he listened to the gospel songs of the field hands and dreamed about moving on. “I didn’t like picking cotton one bit,” he recalls. “I used to stand in the field and watch the cars go by and think, I want to go with them.”

Today, nearly four decades and a million miles later, Willie, 47, continues to heed the call of the highway.  Overtaken by fame a mere five years ago with the release of his album,  Red Headed Stranger,  he simply picked up the tempo and put his foot to the floor.   Once branded an outlaw by Nashville’s rhinestone encrusted music establishment, Nelson has recently become an inadvertant and unassailable national monument.  No one really objected when Willie dropped a lyric from the Star Spangled Banner at the recent Demoncratic  National Convention.

Since Stranger went platinum in 1976, Nelson has added two more platinums, two double platinums, four golds and a whole attic full of Grammys and Country Music Association awards.  Currently, with seventeen LPs on the charts, plus his new double LP Honeysuckle Rose,  Willie has taken his guitar and his  low key persona and is trying his hand at being a movie star.

As he tells it, his starring role as Buck Bonham in Honeysuckle Rose is one he could almost play from memory.   “I never did know you had to be trained to have your picture made”,  drawls Willie.  “Maybe that’s the whole point, not knowing anything is maybe better than just knowing a little.”

Willie Nelson Busted (Star Magazine, May 24, 1994)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017


Star Magazine
by Alex Burton
May 24, 1994

Willie Nelson was arrested in Hewitt, Texas, on May 10, after police found him asleep in the back of his Mercedes and discovered a bag of marijuana in his car.

Nelson, 61, claims he was returning home after a poker game when he pulled off the road due to bad weather.

“I played all night and was driving back to Austin,” says Nelson.  It was foggy, so I pulled to the side of the road to sleep, and the policemen found me.”

A Hewitt police report says officers “saw a man lying in the back seat who appeared to be asleep.  While looking in the vehicle, officers observed a hand-rolled cigarrette in the ashtray.”

“The officers tapped on the window.  The subject sat up, opened the door and identified himself as Willie Nelson.”

The report adds, “The officers believed the cigarette in the ashtray to be marijuana, and Mr. Nelson was placed under arrest for possession of marijuana under 2 ounces.”

“Mr. Nelson advised the officers there was additional marijuana in the vehicle.  A bag was found which contained a substance believed to be marijuana.”

Nelson was taken to the McLennan County Jail in Waco and held for two hours before posting bail.

“Mr. Nelson was turned over to the booking officers there.  Standard procedure is to fingerprint and photograph the individual and collect the person’s property,” says Hewitt Police Lt. Wilbert Wachtendorf.

“After his release, he returned to the station here in Hewitt, and retrieved his car, credit cards and cash.

“I was in the station when Mr. Nelson returned.  He actually shook the hands of the two arresting officers.  He was in good spirits, and seemed to be a nice individual.”

The charge against Nelson is a Class B misdemeanor and the case will be referred to the local district attorney.