Archive for the ‘television’ Category

Willie Nelson: Ten Prime Hits (CMT)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

The first band Willie Nelson joined played polka. He was only 10, but he brought several years of experience to the group.

His grandparents bought him a guitar from Sears when he was 6, and he started writing his own songs the year after that. He hasn’t stopped since. Almost 300 albums, more than 2,500 songs, seven decades, and countless of miles later, Nelson is one of the most recognized and revered figures in the world, let alone music.

Nelson landed at No. 7 as the latest honoree on CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice, a list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves. Another honoree is named each week onCMT Hot 20 Countdown.

With such a massive catalog of songs and recordings, narrowing down his accomplishments to a short list is a challenging task, but in chronological order, here are 10 performances that have defined his career over more than five decades:

Nelson was relatively unknown when he wrote “Crazy.” In 1962, Patsy Cline was already a star and delivered the powerfully plaintive vocals we all know in one masterful take. She didn’t immediately warm to Nelson’s demo of the song, in which he monkeyed with phrasing — sometimes jumping the beat, sometimes lagging behind — but Owen Bradley, her legendary producer, heard potential. As for Nelson’s writing, he took country’s tear-in-my-beer sadness, mixed it with pop elegance and jazz irreverence to create an exquisite exercise in self-deprecation as well as one of country music’s most famous songs ever.

“Whiskey River”
Its unmistakable percussive guitar and crazed songbird harmonica kick off almost every one of Nelson’s live shows, sometimes in a jazz-inspired rush, other times in a blues-soaked stroll. Nelson always picks the pace. Written by fellow Texan Johnny Bush and Paul Stroud, “Whiskey River” appeared on the 1973 album Shotgun Willie, Nelson’s decisive pivot from Nashville convention and toward the creation of Outlaw country. No, Nelson didn’t write “Whiskey River,” but like so many other songs composed by others that he’s recorded, it’s all his.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”
Just a sparse acoustic guitar and an inviting, campfire tenor carry this song, which became his first No. 1, earned him his first Grammy and introduced the world to Nelson as a recording artist. On the watershed 1975 album Red Headed Stranger, the song takes lovers’ separation to especially forlorn depths: “Love is like a dying ember, only memories remain/And through the ages I’ll remember blue eyes cryin’ in the rain.” Elvis Presley, Roy Acuff and others have also recorded the tune, which was written by Fred Rose, but Nelson’s aching rendition is the one that’s hung around.

“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (with Waylon Jennings)
If you don’t smile when listening to Jennings join his friend for a song, honky-tonk may not be your bag — or you may just need to check your pulse. The two won a Grammy for this 1978 No. 1 smash written by Ed and Patsy Bruce, wryly admonishing and romanticizing cowboys in a rollicking warning for moms who probably weren’t considering pushing cowpoking as a career in the first place.

“Georgia on My Mind”
In 1978, Nelson also released Stardust, an album that took his flirtations with jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and pop, blended them with his country core and unveiled an entirely new sound that he’d been inching toward for years. He was already an outlaw and a superstar. Now he was an artist on par with the best. His haunting cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind” — an American classic indelibly sung by Ray Charles — won a Grammy, and Stardust stayed on country charts for a decade.

“On the Road Again”
Legend has it Nelson wrote “On the Road Again” in about 20 minutes on an airplane barf bag. The signature song with a runaway train beat was featured in Nelson’s 1980 film, Honeysuckle Rose. The recording notched him his fourth Grammy, as well as his first and only Academy Award nomination for best original song. These days, he usually winds down most shows with this autobiographical tribute to highways, old friends and new towns — a fitting farewell that captures his undiminished anticipation and love of performing.

“Always on My Mind”
Sister Bobbie Nelson kicks off this No. 1 hit from 1982 on the piano before her brother launches into a list of concessions about falling short as a lover. But, he pleads earnestly, he was thinking about herthe whole time. His delivery clinched another Grammy, his fifth, and firmly cemented his role as the outsider insiders love to love. Written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James, Elvis Presley offered a moving cover of the song not long after his separation from Priscilla, while Brenda Leeand the Pet Shop Boys have recorded it, too.

“Pancho and Lefty” (featuring Merle Haggard)
One of the greatest story songs ever written, “Pancho and Lefty” paired Nelson with fellow icon Haggard. A genius consistently ranked among the best songwriters to have ever lived, Townes Van Zandt penned the hardscrabble tale about bandits, betrayal and living with decisions made and originally recorded it in 1972. Nelson and Haggard’s definitive version plays like a John Ford film for your ears and climbed all the way to No. 1 in 1983.

“Highwayman” (with Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash)
Along with Kristofferson, Jennings and Cash, Nelson formed the Highwaymen, Outlaw country’s version of the Rat Pack, in the ’80s. The quartet’s single “Highwayman” — a trippy tale of reincarnation written by Jimmy Webb — topped the charts in 1985. All four take a verse with distinct style and swagger, and the result is an anthem celebrating the soul’s immortality that’s taken on an air of heightened poignancy with the passing of Jennings and Cash.

“Mendocino County Line” (featuring Lee Ann Womack)
Nelson is a generous and frequent collaborator. In addition to those on this list, his duet partners have ranged from Ray Charles, Julio Iglesias, Ray Price and Leon Russell, to Snoop Dogg, Rob Thomas,Wynton Marsalis and Toby Keith. For 2002’s “Mendocino County Line,” he called on Womack. The dreamy remembrance of long-gone love sweeps listeners away thanks to Womack’s lush vocals. Ultimately, though, the track is grounded in the gritty, glorious Nelson — the eternal, offbeat metronome of American music.

Read article, and see more videos here:

Willie Nelson on CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists’ Choice

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Willie Nelson has been revealed at No. 7 on CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice.

A list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves, another honoree is named each week on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.

Beginning his career in the late ’50s, Nelson attempted to fit the mold of the clean-cut Nashville country singer at first but eventually changed course and moved to Austin, Texas, in the early ’70s.

From there, he would become one of the leading figures of the Outlaw country movement — in which artists sought greater creative control over their music — and released classic albums like Shotgun Willie, Phases and Stages, Red Headed Stranger and Stardust.

With Wanted: The Outlaws, Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser are credited with the first country album to ever sell 1 million copies. He has recorded 68 studio albums in all.

A celebrated songwriter with a singular vocal and guitar-playing style, Nelson’s hits include “Always on My Mind,” “On the Road Again,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” and “Crazy,” which became an iconic single for Patsy Cline. Nelson is also famed as a prolific duet partner, scoring collaborative hits like “Pancho & Lefty” with Merle Haggard and “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” with Jennings.

He continues to record and tour tirelessly, his most recent album being 2014’s Band of Brothers. He is president of the board of directors for Farm Aid and a co-chair on the advisory board of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

In 1993, Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Merle Haggard, Randy Houser, Asleep at the Wheel‘s Ray Benson, Ashley Monroe, Rhonda Vincent,Pam Tillis and Ronnie Dunn are just a few of the artists who named Nelson as a central influence on today’s country music landscape.

“His voice is unique and needs no correction,” Haggard said. “He has the perseverance matched by nobody that I know of, and he sincerely loves what he does. There’s nobody better at it.”

“Willie Nelson’s got one of the richest, most interesting voices there ever was,” Houser noted. “When you hear him tell a story or hear a song that he wrote and hear him do it, I mean, there’s so much conviction. You know that he’s felt those things, and that transcends anything. I don’t even know why people want to say anything about him having a nontypical voice in a negative way. I don’t care how your voice sounds, if it’s interesting, it’s interesting. That’s what the best voices are, to me.”

On top of his one-of-a-kind style, Nelson is also known for having a kind heart.

“I’ve known Willie for 40 years or longer, and he’s been the best friend a man could ever have,” Benson said. “I mean, musically he is Willie. There’s nobody like him. Playing onstage with Willie is as unique an experience as you can get because he does everything Willie’s way. Luckily, I’ve been with him so long that I know that way, and I love it and it’s just fun.”

“He has this peace about him, this overwhelming peace when you watch him sing or just being in his presence,” Monroe added. “He’s calm. He knows what he’s doing, and you can tell the songs he has written were supposed to be written. They’ve changed music history.”

“I think Willie Nelson has this very calming and very kind spirit that surrounds him,” Vincent agreed. “As you talk to him, he’s rather soft spoken and he kind of draws you in. I think you can’t help but just love him and love that he has that calming spirit about him, whatever it might be.”

But what really sets Nelson apart is the way he was able to change country music, just by being himself.

“Willie tried to make it as an entertainer in Nashville, but he was just a little too different,” Tillis said. “I remember when Willie had short hair and wore a turtle neck. (laughs) I guess he was coming out of that folk era. But then Willie just said, ‘You know what? To hell with all you guys, the powers that be.’

“And when he owned up to who he was and grew his hair long and stopped caring what anybody thought, then it turned into magic. I just remember all of a sudden … hippie country took the country by storm. All of a sudden, you had hillbillies that could play arenas, and they changed the game.”

“Willie was an innovator,” Dunn concluded. “He brought a big social and cultural change to country music. He’s actually the first country artist I got excited about because I listened to as much rock as I did country. … And then Willie came along and fused that culture with sound, and it all came together.”

Check out the rest of the CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice list, and find out who will be announced each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years on PBS

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

photo: Scott Newton

Join us as we celebrate four decades as a music institution withAustin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years, a primetime special airing Friday, October 3rd, 9-11pm ET on PBS Arts Fall Festival.

Guest hosts Jeff Bridges, Sheryl Crow and Matthew McConaughey, the two-hour broadcast features memorable moments from the trailblazing show’s remarkable run, while the brightest stars in the series’ history return to the ACL stage for dream duets and choice collaborations.

An all-star lineup of ACL royalty pays tribute to the show’s enduring legacy with unforgettable music performances. Highlights of the special include the show opener as Bonnie Raitt, Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard, Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark, Jr. team up for the Sam & Dave classic “Wrap It Up.” Incredible pairings include ACL Hall of Fame legend  Willie Nelson and EmmyLou Harrison the Nelson-penned classic “Crazy” and  Kris Kristofferson Sheryl Crow’s moving take on his signature “Me and Bobby McGee.”

The Foo Fighters honor ACL with a wild rendition of Texas cult hero Roky Erickson‘s “Two Headed Dog,” recorded at the show’s original television studio especially for the occasion. Host Jeff Bridges performs the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton’s song “What A Little Bit of Love Can Do” as a tribute to the influential Austin musician who inspired Bridges’ Oscar-winning portrayal in Crazy Heart.

Local legends Joe Ely and Robert Earl Keenshowcase their troubadour roots and significance to the Austin music scene. Breakout artists and ACL alumni Alabama Shakes and Gary Clark Jr. give blistering performances that forecast the future of the series. Blues titan Buddy Guy brings it all home with an electrifying take on his “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

The special comes to a close with an all-star reading of two Lone Star classics—a stellar lineup of guitar slingers blaze through the Stevie Ray Vaughan standard “Texas Flood” and the biggest names in music trade verses on the Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away,” as ACL embraces its past and hints at what is to come.

photo: Scott Newton

It aired on PBS last Friday, but it looks like it can be rented or purchased:

Stevie Ray Vaughn honored; “Texas Flood” by Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lyle Lovett and more (Austin City Limits)

Sunday, October 5th, 2014


Recently, Austin City Limits celebrated forty years as a music institution. A television special honoring the program’s 40th anniversary was aired that featured well-known artists in the series’ history coming together to perform select songs. Above, you can watch a clip that features Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson and his son Lukas, and Lyle Lovett perform their version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Texas Flood.” They are back by SRV’s band, Double Trouble, who are bassist Tommy Shannon, keyboardist Reese Wynans and drummer Chris Layton.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd wastes little time starting the song with bending notes and a guitar sound almost identical to the late SRV. Bluesman Buddy Guy takes the first verse before handing the duties to Willie Nelson. Willie trades vocals with his son, Lukas, who impresses the audience with a sharp solo. The tune wraps up with Lyle Lovett giving a brief but gritty vocal performance. While the Stevie Ray Vaughan version often highlighted only the guitarist, it would have been interesting to hear where Kenny, Buddy, Willie and others would have taken it, if given all the time they wanted.

For more information about Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years and its lineup of artists, check out theAustin City Limits website.

Willie Nelson featured in “Behind the Scenes: Austin City Limits Celebrates Forty Years”

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

PBS 40th Anniversary Austin City Limits Show

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

by: Gayle Thompson

The PBS TV show ‘Austin City Limits’ is honoring its 40th anniversary with an all-star prime-time special. ‘Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years’ will air on Friday, Oct. 3, as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival.

Jeff Bridges, Sheryl Crow and Matthew McConaughey will host the two-hour special, which will include performances by more than a dozen artists. Bonnie Raitt, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark, Jr., will kick the night off with a performance of the Sam & Dave classic ‘Wrap It Up.’

Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris will perform ‘Crazy,’ written by Nelson, while Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow will perform Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee.’ The Foo Fighters will perform Texas cult hero Rocky Erickson’s ‘Two Headed Dog,’ which was recorded at the show’s original TV studio in honor of the occasion.

Bridges will perform the late Stephen Bruton’s tune, ‘What a Little Bit of Love Can Do,’ in honor of Bruton, who inspired Bridges’ Oscar-winning portrayal in and also composed music for the hit film ‘Crazy Heart.’

Other performers during the broadcast include Doyle Bramhall II, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris, Grupo Fantasma, Buddy Guy, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Robert Randolph and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

“This is a huge milestone for us,” ’ACL’ executive producer Terry Lickona says. “This show captures the essence of what ‘Austin City Limits’ is all about. We set the bar high for this celebration, and we exceeded it! The lineup of talent speaks volumes about the respect that artists have for ‘ACL.’”

‘Austin City Limits’ has announced Eric Church will perform on the series this year, along with Los Lobos, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Valerie June and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. Church’s episode will air on Nov. 15



See a complete set list below, and check local listings here.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years Setlist:
Bonnie Raitt, Brittany Howard, Jimmie Vaughan & Gary Clark Jr. | ‘Wrap It Up’
Bonnie Raitt | ‘Your Good Thing (Is About to End)’
Kris Kristofferson & Sheryl Crow | ‘Me and Bobby McGee’
Alabama Shakes | ‘Gimme All Your Love’
Jeff Bridges | ‘What A Little Bit of Love Can Do’
Willie Nelson | ‘Whiskey River’
Willie Nelson & Lyle Lovett | ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’
Willie Nelson & Emmylou Harris | ‘Crazy”
Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris & Lyle Lovett | “On the Road Again’
Robert Earl Keen & Joe Ely | ‘The Road Goes On Forever’
Gary Clark Jr. | ‘Bright Lights’
Foo Fighters | ‘Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)’
Sheryl Crow | ‘Can’t Cry Anymore’
Doyle Bramhall & Sheryl Crow | ‘I’m Leaving’
Grupo Fantasma | ‘Mulato’
Jimmie Vaughan & Bonnie Raitt | ‘The Pleasure’s All Mine’
Kenny Wayne Shepherd & Mike Farris | ‘House Is Rockin”
Robert Randolph | ‘Pride and Joy’
Buddy Guy | ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’
All-Star Finale | ‘Texas Flood’
All-Star Finale | ‘Not Fade Away’

Read More: ‘Austin City Limits’ to Celebrate 40th Anniversary |

Willie Nelson, Austin City Limits Hall of Fame

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Austin City Limits, Willie Nelson

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Willie Nelson on David Letterman Show, “You Don’t Know Me”

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Mr. Monk meets the Red Headed Stranger

Monday, July 21st, 2014


Is country superstar Willie Nelson a cold-blooded murderer? The police think so – but Monk has other ideas.


An upset Willie Nelson accuses his road manager, Sonny Cross, of embezzlement just hours before making a San Francisco radio appearance. Sonny later arrives at the radio station to find a note summoning him to a side entrance. As Sonny disappears down an alley, two shots ring out, and an engineer throws open the side door to find a blind woman, Mrs. Mass, screaming hysterically – and Willie Nelson hovering over Sonny’s dead body.

An injured Captain Stottlemeyer decides to put Lt. Disher in charge of the investigation, and Disher loses no time in calling in Adrian Monk. Monk learns that only Sonny, Mrs. Mass, and Willie Nelson were in the alley, and even though he seems to be the most likely suspect. Monk can’t picture Willie – a favorite singer of his late wife Trudy – as a killer. Stottlemeyer arrives with his right arm in a sling. Mrs. Mass gently shakes his left hand, then identifies Willie’s voice as the one that threatened to kill her if she spoke to the police. Orphaned at 16 in a car accident that also robbed her of her sight, Mrs. Mass is a persuasive witness. Things look grim for the Red-Headed Stranger.

With Sharona gushing about her great new boyfriend Justin, and the SFPD occupied with trying to track down a persistent and elusive streaker, Monk starts to investigate. He begins by learning more about Sonny Cross. A reckless womanizer and boozehound, Cross had previously served two years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. Willie had been close to firing Cross on many occasions, but never had the heart.

For now, Willie Nelson is still the prime suspect, and the police arrest him and formally press charges. Meanwhile, Monk decides to go see Mrs. Mass again. He learns she received a concussion after falling in a wet supermarket aisle the year before, but never sued. As they say goodbye, she offers to shake his hand, and Monk suddenly remembers how she’d previously shaken Stottlemeyer’s hand – and offered him her left hand because his right hand was in a sling. How had she known that… unless she had somehow regained her sight!

The SFPD has finally caught the streaker, and Monk bails him out of jail so he can lay a trap for Mrs. Mass. From a place of concealment, Monk and Sharona watch Mrs. Mass turn her head in wonder as the nudist streaks by her ¿ and Sharona recognizes the streaker as her new boyfriend, Justin!

Once in custody, Mrs. Mass finally comes clean: the fall last year in the supermarket somehow reconnected her optic nerve, restoring partial vision in one eye. She’d kept this miracle to herself in order to be above suspicion when she took finally her revenge on Sonny Cross – the drunk driver that took away her family and her eyesight 30 years before.


All charges against Willie Nelson are dropped, and on a crisp autumn sky under a sparkling blue sky, the two new friends play a soulful, moving duet together – Willie on guitar, Monk on clarinet – at the site of Trudy’s grave.






Seth Rogan tweets plans to use Willie Nelson’s “Time of the Preacher” in new “Preacher” tv series

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014


Seth Rogan has been hired to develop a television series based on the popular comic book, “Preacher”, and he has been tweeting pictures from his story board.   His latest tweet shows plans to use Willie Nelson’s, “Time of the Preacher” for the opening scene.


Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, “Graceland”

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Willie Nelson on ABC World News tonight

Saturday, July 12th, 2014


Willie Nelson ‘Person of the Week’ on ABC News tonight

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Willie Nelson might be 81 years old, but the years haven’t slowed him down. The icon’s latest album, “Band of Brothers,” hit number one when it came out just a few weeks ago. Here’s a behind the scenes look at our Person of the Week singing one of music’s biggest hits – “Crazy.”


Willie Nelson interview on PBS

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014


JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: the continuing musical saga of the great Willie Nelson.

Jeff is back with our profile.

JEFFREY BROWN: He’s 81 years old, hair still long, though no longer all red, more legend these days than outlaw, but, yes, still very much on the road.

WILLIE NELSON: And I can’t wait to get on the road.

And everybody say it right here.

JEFFREY BROWN: Willie Nelson has just released a new album titled “Band of Brothers,” the first in many years to feature primarily his own original material.

On his tour bus before a recent concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, I asked him about the burst of songwriting.

WILLIE NELSON: Well, I know that some days you write and some days you don’t. And you learn to live with that. Roger Miller said one time that the well goes try, and you have to wait until it fills up again.

JEFFREY BROWN: You know what makes a good song after all these years of writing?

WILLIE NELSON: Oh, I think I do.



JEFFREY BROWN: Indeed, Nelson has been writing songs and hits for five decades.

WILLIE NELSON (singing): Crazy for feeling so lonely.

JEFFREY BROWN: “Crazy,” made famous by Patsy Cline in 1961, “Always on My Mind” in 1982, and dozens of others from more than 100 albums.

All the while, he’s performed around the world, long ago becoming one of music’s best known faces and voices.

WILLIE NELSON (singing): Time just slips away.

JEFFREY BROWN: All this began in the tiny town of Abbott, Texas, a childhood in which he and his sister, Bobbie, who still performs with him on piano, were raids by their grandparents.

He wrote about those beginnings in his 2012 memoir titled, in pure Willie fashion, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

I read in your last memoir, you said that you actually started writing poetry as a kid.

WILLIE NELSON: As I kid, I had — before I could play guitar, I was writing poems. And then, once I had figured out a couple chords on the guitar, I started putting melodies to my poems. And nobody ever told me I couldn’t, so I went ahead and done it.

JEFFREY BROWN: But were the words first?

WILLIE NELSON: Usually, yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, really?

WILLIE NELSON: Usually a little line or something that is said, and then the melodies are out there.

JEFFREY BROWN: In that memoir, you write about working in the fields picking cotton in 100-degree-plus weather and thinking that maybe playing the guitar would be a better way of making a living.

WILLIE NELSON: I would see these Cadillacs drive by on the highway with the air conditioner and all, and I would get a little bit jealous.

JEFFREY BROWN: Yes? You remember that feeling?

WILLIE NELSON: Oh, yes, heck yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: Are you surprised these years later that it worked , that it worked out?

WILLIE NELSON: No. I’m a little surprised at the — how well it worked out.



WILLIE NELSON (singing): We’re a band of brothers, sisters and whatever on a mission to break all the rules.

JEFFREY BROWN: Not only has it worked out, but it seems to have done so on Nelson’s terms. He had success as a songwriter in Nashville in the ’60s. Then from his new base in Austin, Texas, he helped create a new, more raw sound for country music dubbed outlaw country.

WILLIE NELSON (singing): Whiskey River, take my mind.

JEFFREY BROWN: He appeared on the first “Austin City Limits” program on PBS 40 years ago and in the ’80s was part of an all-star collaboration with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson called the Highwaymen.

Over the years, he’s become known for his activism on behalf of small farmers and for legalizing marijuana and for reaching new audiences with recordings of American standards.

WILLIE NELSON: I think innately knew that music draws people together and that good music is liked by almost everybody.

I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like “Stardust,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” or “Crazy Arms” or “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” There are just certain sounds, music, that sort of you know people are going to like it.

That was me. Oh, you like it. And you try it out on an audience and, sure enough, they like it, too.

JEFFREY BROWN: You come across in song and here in person as calm, gentle. I was a little surprised that I read in your memoir where you talked about the rage that was — that has been there at times and that drinking somehow pushed that and marijuana later kind of helped it, suppressed it.

WILLIE NELSON: Well, I think there must be a little bit of truth in high temper and red hair.

JEFFREY BROWN: High temper and red hair.

WILLIE NELSON: Yes. Have you heard that?

JEFFREY BROWN: I have heard of that.

WILLIE NELSON: Yes. Well, I was sort of living proof of that, I guess, because I had flaming red hair and a high temper.

And that’s something that I have to control and live with all the time. But at least I know what my problem is.


JEFFREY BROWN: Whatever you call it, even after all the awards and honors, there’s clearly still a drive to the man that comes out on stage, the guitar playing on a guitar famous in its rights, as well-worn as its owner, named Trigger.

WILLIE NELSON (singing): I can be moving or I can be still, but still is still moving to me.

JEFFREY BROWN: And the unique phrasing, often off the beat, that has made Nelson’s sing so familiar to millions.

Behind all this, it turns out, is a great deal of attention to keeping in shape. Nelson has a black belt in karate and another in Korean mixed martial arts.

While on tour, he told me, he rides a bike, works out with a punching bag, takes walks. And that’s how he can do this into his 80s.

WILLIE NELSON: Really, I think the best exercise that I do is singing for an hour-and-a-half out on the stage, because, yes, I use the lung, the biggest muscle in your body. And I use it continually. And I kind of watch myself and I kind of feel how that singing is helping me as I do it physically.

JEFFREY BROWN: After a show, you feel better?

WILLIE NELSON: Oh, I feel much better after a show. And so does my sister, Bobbie, and all of us in the band.

JEFFREY BROWN: So being out on the road and playing like this all the time you think is keeping you healthier?

WILLIE NELSON: You have to be a professional athlete to do it.



A professional athlete maybe, but somewhere in every tour, he says, he decides, at least for the moment, that he’s had enough. He wrote of that on a new song titled “The Wall.”

WILLIE NELSON (singing): I hit the wall.

That really happens to you along the way. But I enjoy playing music. Then I get back doing it.

JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. But what happens to you when you’re not playing that for too long?

WILLIE NELSON: You get bored to be at home, or you’re used to coming out and doing it. It is an addiction. There’s no doubt about it, but it’s one of the good ones, I think.

JEFFREY BROWN: And not only the performing, but the songwriting continues. Nelson has already announced that another album of new material will come out later this year.

WILLIE NELSON (singing): You can’t tell me what to do. You can’t tell me what to do.

JUDY WOODRUFF: That Willie Nelson is an inspiration.