Archive for the ‘television’ Category

Willie Nelson interview with Charley Rose (1999)

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

“Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” on CMT Tonight (April 7, 2017)

Friday, April 7th, 2017

www.cmt.com

CMT will premiere “Outlaw: Celebrating The Music Of Waylon Jennings on CMT, tonight Friday April 7 at 10PM ET. The movie features the music of Waylon Jennings along with interviews and behinds the scenes footage from this all-star concert event in Austin TX.

http://waylonoutlaw.com

 

“Outlaw” – Concert Tribute to Waylon Jennings broadcast on April 7, 2017

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

www.CMT.com

“Outlaw” will air  9 p.m. Friday, April 7th, on CMT.

 

An all-star Waylon Jennings tribute is coming to CMT on April 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

The two-hour event titled Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings was taped live on July 6, 2015 at Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater with performances by Willie Nelson, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Kris Kristofferson, Toby Keith, Alison Krauss, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Shooter Jennings, Buddy Miller, Jessi Colter, Robert Earl Keen and Bobby Bare. The special will include in-depth interviews and compelling behind-the-scenes footage.

The project was created by Keith Wortman and Mark Rothbaum, along with Colter and Shooter. Wortman, Rothbaum, Colter and Freddy Fletcher are the executive producers. Grammy winners Don Was and Buddy Cannon served as co-music directors for the project.

Was led the all-star house band, which featured guitarists Buddy Miller and Patrick Buchanan; pedal steel player Robby Turner, drummers Raymond Weber and Richie Albright; keys and accordion player Matthew Rollings, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and backing vocalists Kari Kimmel, Carmel Echols and Sara Mann.

A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Jennings released more than sixty albums and changed the world of country music with his imposing baritone and stripped-down musical style. The Nelson duet “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” won the two outlaws a Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group in 1979.

Pre-orders for the CD/DVD set and digital download are available through Amazon.

Here is the CD/DVD track listing for Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings:

Chris Stapleton and Morgane Stapleton — “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”
Shooter Jennings — “Whistlers And Jugglers”
Jessi Colter — “Mona”
Bobby Bare — “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”
Lee Ann Womack — “Ride Me Down Easy”
Lee Ann Womack and Buddy Miller — “Yours Love”
Sturgill Simpson — “Memories Of You And I” (DVD only)
Kacey Musgraves — “The Wurlitzer Prize”
Jamey Johnson — “Freedom To Stay”
Robert Earl Keen — “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way”
Kris Kristofferson — “I Do Believe”
Ryan Bingham — “Rainy Day Woman”
Alison Krauss — “Dreaming My Dreams With You”
Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson — “I Ain’t The One”
Toby Keith — “Honky Tonk Heroes”
Eric Church — “Lonesome, On’ry And Mean”
Willie Nelson — “Till I Gain Control Again”
Willie Nelson and Toby Keith — “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”
Willie Nelson and Chris Stapleton – “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”
Willie Nelson and Sturgill Simpson — “I Can Get Off On You” (DVD only)
Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson — “Highwayman”
Willie Nelson and Full Ensemble — “Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love)”

This day in Willie Nelson History: Nashville Star (April 3, 2004)

Monday, April 3rd, 2017
www.USANetwork.com
EPISODE 5: WILLIE SONGS
EPISODE PREMIERE: April 3, 2004

This week’s Nashville Star featured a guest appearance by music legend Willie Nelson, and six of the eight remaining contestants were faced with the daunting challenge of performing some of Willie’s best-loved songs in front of the man himself! The two contestants who received the fewest number of votes after last week’s show were sent home.

Willie kicked the show off with a performance of his classic “Whiskey River” as the contestants watched from the audience, and the BellSouth Acuff Theatre erupted into thunderous applause. The contestants then joined Willie on stage and all had an opportunity to shake the legend’s hand before he took his seat in the theatre.

Later, the contestants shared their thoughts on why Willie Nelson is an icon: “He’s shown us that we don’t have to go through the door that everyone wants us to go through,” George Canyon said. When asked about the pressure of performing in front of Willie, George said “As long as I stay conscious, I’ll be OK.”

“Not only does he write truthful songs from his heart,” Brad Cotter said, “but you feel like he’s lived them.” “This is royalty,” Marty Slayton agreed. “For our business he’s as good as it gets.”

Sheila Marshall commented, “He connects with everyone.” “He’s a storyteller, he’s a singer, he’s a stylist, he’s a writer, he’s an icon,” Matt Lindahl expounded. “You can’t get around it. But I bet you if you really got a chance to sit down and talk to Willie Nelson, he’s ‘just folks,’ too.”

“He just seems like your friend,” Brent Keith agreed. “I’ve waited my whole life to meet Willie Nelson, and oh my God, I’m going to!” Jennifer Hicks exclaimed.

Host Nancy O’Dell announced that the evening’s show would consist of performances only by those contestants remaining in the competition. With only six performance slots and eight performers remaining, tensions ran high each time Nancy read out a name.

Fairfield, Illinois native Lance Miller was selected to perform first. When Nancy asked him how he felt about being the first to perform after Willie himself, he said, “I’ve heard Willie talk about living in the moment and enjoying the now, and I’m gonna enjoy this for a minute.” Lance’s performance was a confident and original version of “On the Road Again,” during which Willie clapped along. Afterwards, Tracy Gershon said, “One of the things I look for is somebody who can perform under pressure. You just sang a Willie song with Willie in the audience. Baby, you just proved yourself!” “I didn’t think you’d be around until the end,” Billy Greenwood said, “but tonight you definitely proved me wrong.” Brett Warren said, “You’re a country star, and I would buy your record.” “Dude, Willie Nelson just opened for you!” Brad Warren added.

The next person who earned a performance slot was the pride of Snellville, Georgia, Matt Lindahl. Wearing dark overalls under a black jacket (and, of course, his trademark red ball cap), Matt took a more serious turn by singing the gospel-flavored “Uncloudy Day,” as Willie clapped along. “I have asked you week after week to show us what you could do, and you just did it,” Billy commented. “You showed America tonight you could really sing,” Brad added. “It’s a tough vocal race right now… you’ve got some tough competition,” Tracy concluded, to which Matt replied, “I know it; I live with them!”

Next it was time for the latest Hot Spot segment. Last week, the contestants received a phone call from NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, who invited them to sing in front of 160,000 people at the Bristol Motor Speedway during pre-race festivities for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Food City 500. At the race, the contestants had their first experience of fans recognizing them from being on TV, and had plenty of time to sign autographs and hand out merchandise before having the opportunity to meet Johnson in person. There was more on the race later in the show.

At this point there were only four performance slots left, with six contestants hoping to fill them. Alabama’s Brad Cotter, who now lives in Nashville, was called next. Like last week, he played the keyboard, and this time he sang a passionate version of “The Last Thing I Needed.” He also related the story of how he hadn’t been allowed to listen to anything but gospel music while he was growing up, but this song was one of the earliest ones he enjoyed and he used to sneak listening to it on his headphones. His performance earned him a standing ovation from Willie himself! Brett said, “When we were growing up we weren’t allowed to listen to anything but Christian music either. That performance was awesome, and if there’s a jukebox in heaven, I’m pretty sure Willie Nelson‘s on it.” Tracy said, “You are really becoming a front runner… watch the coffee in the morning, because if I were another contestant, I might poison it!”

Canada’s George Canyon was called up next. “I’ve been a Willie Nelson fan and he’s been a hero of mine for 28 years,” he said. His performance of “Seven Spanish Angels” also earned a standing ovation from Willie. “You’re like our resident Boy Scout,” Tracy said. “You’re steadfast, true, and we can always count on you for great performance.” Brad said, “I’d be willing to bet a couple million dollars of Sony’s money that there’s a couple million people who would buy your record.” When Nancy O’Dell asked George what he’d say to Willie, seeing him in the front row, he said, “Willie, please come up and sing with me!”

Next Nancy checked in with Willie to see what advice he would give to the contestants. “They’re all so good,” he replied. “I’m glad I’m not a judge!”

Then it was back to the Hot Spot segment for more coverage of the contestants’ visit to the Bristol Motor Speedway, where they sang “America the Beautiful” as paratroopers with an American flag made a picture-perfect landing on the track. “We watched the race from the best seats in the house,” Brad said. “Richard Petty watched from same place.” Lance added, “I kept thinking they’d ask me to leave, but they never did.” Jennifer commented on the dizzying pace and busy schedules the contestants keep each week. “You get exhausted, but you can’t whine because you’re dying to do it – and you might not get to do it next week!”

Jennifer Hicks was, in fact, the next contestant selected to take the stage, and her performance of “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” also earned a standing ovation from Willie. Billy said, “You belong on the show, and you showed it again tonight.” Brett said, “Jennifer, you cry more than Chris Cagle, but you’re America’s next sweetheart. I think you are awesome – you’re great.” “You can’t make a bad choice when you have the Willie catalog to choose from,” Tracy concluded, “but that was a great choice.”

Now there were only three contestants remaining – and just one performance slot. Nancy brought Marty Slayton, Brent Keith, and Sheila Marshall onto the stage, and they sweated it out through a commercial break.

When we returned, we learned that the first person we would say goodbye to this evening was Sheila Marshall. “You know I’m a big fan, and you have a bright future ahead of you,” Nancy told her. “Thank you, I love y’all, and thanks for your support,” Sheila said. “I want to thank the judges, Nashville Star and USA Network, everyone in Texas that voted, my husband, and my mom.”

Next, Nancy read the name of the final performer for the evening, and it was.. Brent Keith, meaning that Marty Slayton was also eliminated. “I’d like to say thanks to my family and friends and everybody back home,” she said. “I have a great life, and I get to do what I love to do for a living.”

Brent then launched into his performance of “The City of New Orleans,” saying that it always reminds him of his grandfather, who was a truck driver. “I don’t care if you’re pretty – you can sing,” Brad said. Tracy commented, “You did a good job on loosening up and having fun. You’ve got some work to do, but good job.” “Perfect ending,” Billy concluded.

SONG LIST:

Willie Nelson:
“Whiskey River”

Lance Miller:
“On The Road Again” – Willie Nelson

Matt Lindahl:
“Uncloudy Day” – Willie Nelson

Brad Cotter:
“The Last Thing I Needed” – Willie Nelson

George Canyon:
“Seven Spanish Angels” – Willie Nelson

Jennifer Hicks:
“Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” – Willie Nelson

Brent Keith:
“The City of New Orleans” – Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson interview on “Sunday Morning”, CBS, with Bob Schieffer

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

See Willie Nelson tomorrow on‘Sunday Morning’ this weekend (April 2, 2017)

Saturday, April 1st, 2017


Willie Nelson will be featured in an interview segment of the CBS show “Sunday Morning” April 2, airing locally from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on KEYE-TV.

www.Austin360.com
by:  Peter Blackstock

Willie Nelson will be featured in an interview segment of the CBS show “Sunday Morning” April 2, airing locally from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on KEYE-TV.

A brief video and text preview excerpt on the show’s website hints at some of the content, including former CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer’s questions about Nelson’s much-anticipated new album “God’s Problem Child” — due out April 28, the day before Nelson’s 84th birthday.

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

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

Willie Nelson and Bob Schieffer visit at Nelson’s property near Austin during an interview for the CBS show “Sunday Morning” set to air on April 2, 2017. Contributed/CBS News

See Willie Nelson with Bob Schieffer this week on Sunday Morning (April 2nd)

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

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Singer-songwriter Willie Nelson, with Bob Schieffer.

www.cbsnews.com

Bob Schieffer, of CBS, visited Luck Texas during SXSW, and interviewed Willie Nelson. He went to the concert, and walked around and talked with fans during the day.   The show airs on Sunday Morning, April 2nd.

FOR THE RECORD: Willie Nelson

Closing in on his 84th birthday, country singer-songwriter Willie Nelson is on the road again — performing, writing music, and releasing a new album. “God’s Problem Child” is his 110th, give or take, with songs like “Still Not Dead.”

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

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

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

Willie Nelson – Old Timer by WillieNelsonVEVO on YouTube

For more info:

Willie Nelson talks about touring and new album ‘God’s Problem Child’

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Willie Nelson talks about touring and new album ‘God’s Problem Child’

TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager catches up with a legendary name country music, Willie Nelson. He talks about being “on the road again” in his tour bus and reveals why his new album is called “God’s Problem Child.” It includes an original song wryly titled “Still Not Dead.”

“Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings”, with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and more (airs on CMT April 7th)

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Blackbird Presents Home

On Monday, July 6, 2015, a collection of music’s legendary outlaws and rising superstars came together for a once-in-a-lifetime concert event at ACL Live At The The Moody Theater in Austin, TX, to honor Waylon Jennings, one of the most influential musicians of the Outlaw Country movement. The concert event was filmed and recorded for multi-platform distribution throughout traditional and digital media.

OUTLAW: CELEBRATING THE MUSIC OF WAYLON JENNINGS featured performances by: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Toby Keith, Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Chris Stapleton, Shooter Jennings, and Jessi Colter.

Grammy Award-winner Don Was served as co-music director and led an all-star band backing the performers at this concert event. Legendary music producer Buddy Cannon also served as co-music director. “Waylon Jennings was my friend, brother, and musical soul mate”, said Willie Nelson. “Playing his songs with these incredible artists, is going to be one hell of a concert event.”

On Friday, April 7, 2017, the two-hour broadcast premiere will air on CMT at 10 pm ET/PT, and Sony Legacy will release the concert film as a CD/DVD combo / digital download which is available for immediate preorder.

The full length concert film features performances by Willie Nelson, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Kris Kristofferson, Toby Keith, Alison Krauss, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Shooter Jennings, Buddy Miller, Jessi Colter, Robert Earl Keen, & Bobby Bare. See the official trailer.

The CMT premiere and DVD both include a range of Jennings classics, such as “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” (performed by Willie Nelson and Toby Keith), “Lonesome, On’ry And Mean” (performed by Eric Church), “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” (performed by Chris Stapleton), a very special performance of “Highwayman,” (performed by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson) and an all-star grand finale performance of “Luckenbach, Texas.”

In a heartfelt reflection on the project, Jessi Colter recalled a beautiful lyric she wrote – “You did hang the moon, didn’t you Waylon?”

See more photos here.

Willie Nelson and the Red Neck Tanning Parlor (Saturday Night Live 2/21/1987)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

This day in Willie Nelson history: Host of Saturday Night Live (February 21, 1987)

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

2.21snl

Willie Nelson delivers the opening monologue as host ofSaturday Night Live on Feb. 21, 1987.

churchlady

Willie Nelson (center) appears in the “Church Chat” skit with Danny DeVito, Nora Dunn and Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live on Feb. 21, 1987.

Willie Nelson and BB King on Saturday Night Live 1984

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Willie Nelson on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Willie Nelson: The Barbara Walters Interview (1982)

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

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People Magazine
June 21, 1982
by Cheryl McCall
photos:  Evelyn Floret

It is high noon in Austin, and the atmosphere is sultry in the $257 -a-night LBJ Suite of the Driskill Hotel, where Barbara Walters has turned off the air conditioning.  She has come to Texas to interview Willie Nelson for the 20th ABC special bearing her name, and is savoring a moment of decadent leisure.  Denuded of makeup, padding around in her bare feet and a shapeless cotton caftan, Walters bears little resemblance to the empress of televised conversation.   She looks softer, almost homey, as though she just might mosey into the kitchen and whip up a batch of brownies.  The effect is casually, but not entirely unstudied.

Like no other correspondent, perhaps, Walters is both of the press and apart from it.  As anxious about her image as any politician or movie queen, she has been stung by criticism of herself as a creature of outsize go and privilege.  “The biggest misconception about me is that I’m cold and controlled, that I have this great prima donna life where I’m followed around by limousines, hairdressers and press agents,” she says.  “It’s just not true.”

It is possible, of course, that even Mrs. Onassis thinks of herself as Just Plain Jackie.  Moments later Walters is frantically pulling clothes off hangers and issuing a volley of commands to her secretary:  have her clothes pressed, call room service, summon the hairdresser.  With a taping scheduled for 5:30 p.m., a three-hour transformation begins as the Walters hair is cut and styled (“Don’t make me look like Shirley Temple,” she warns), and emmy-winning makeup artist Tommy Cole applies a poreless mask of cosmetics to the famous face.  “I have not had a face lift,” says Barbara, fifty.  “When I’m doing a special, I am beautifully lit and I look terrific.”

Producer JoAnn goldberg and director Don Mischer arrive to go over plans for the taping and to approve a selection of newly ironed dresses.  (“All form my own closet,” Walters points out.)  In preparation for her summit meeting with Nelson, Barbara’s staff has compiled a voluminous binder of research and drawn up some of the 150 questions she might ask on-camera.  Advance people have scouted out the locations, arranged flights for the staff, booked hotel rooms, rental cars and limousines, hired local camera crews and arranged catering services for the two days of taping in Austin.  Routinely, when the time comes to take the show on the road, Walters boards her plane to the interview, pres over the research once more in flight, and reviews the questions she will use.  Her secretary, Monica Caulfield, guides Barbara to airlines, limos and out-of-town destinations.

For this special, which will also include segments on Clint Eastwood and Carol Burnett, Barbara has postponed 20/20 interviews with Alexander Haig and Yoko Ono to focus her attention on Nelson.  Relentless in pursuing the subjects she wants, Walters writes letters, sends flowers or telegrams, and even pleads with celebs on the telephone.  Leonid Brezhnev, the Pope and Greta Garbo have spurned her requests, but few others have shown such powers of resistance.  Willie Nelson had twice turned her down until she cornered him at a Friars roast for Burt Reynolds last year.  Now, with his hot crossover album of the year, Always on My Mind, topping both pop and country charts, Nelson has become the key to an audience share that Walters would not automatically attract.

Barbara readily admits that his celebrity interrogations are “gentler” than her usual interviews.  “These are people, like Nelson, who are doing me a favor,” she explains.  “They’re superstars who don’t need this publicity.  Nobody comes out of these interviews angry or hurt.  If I’m asked not to discuss something that’s very painful, I won’t, because I’m creative enough to discuss a lot of other things.”  Nelson has declared nothing off limits, yet Barbara is expecting some problems.  “Willie’s a tough one, he’s not a talker,” she frets.  “But I’ve got 90 questions, and if I can get eight minutes out of him, I’m okay.”

After spending five hours taking scene-setters at a local restaurant, on Willie’s private golf course and in his recording studio, Walters seems perplexed by her ultra-casual subject.  Willie has turned up for the taping in running shorts, bandanna and T-shirt.  Off-camera, Barbara broaches the subject of Willie’s legendary fondness for marijuana.  He admits he has smoked “enough to fill a silo,” but says he stopped after his lung collapsed last August.  “If you ever want to try it, I’ll smoke a joint with you,” Barbara reports Willie told her.  Nelson remembers the exchange a bit differently.  “Barbara told me she’s never tried grass,” he says, “but she said she would with me.”

The next morning, after six hours’ sleep and a two-hour makeover, Walters arrives at Willie’s range by 10, primed for interviews with the singer and his wife, Connie.  She hopes to open a few gaps in Nelson’s legendary easygoing facade.  “I care less about his music than the man who writes about love that’s invaded or lost,” she says.  “I want to know if he’s really that controlled. What makes him tick? what makes him laugh?  What makes him throw up?”

To find out, Barbara spends 45 minutes with Connie, probing for chinks in the Nelsons’ domestic armor (“Do you ever get jealous?”) and unexpected insights into what makes Willie run.  A poised, soft-spoken woman, Connie fields even improbable queries (“Why does Willie need you?”) until Walters is satisfied she has enough for the minute of air time she is planning to use.

After Barbara changes into a Laura Ashley print, sparingly buttoned to expose ample cleavage, she turns her attention to Willie.  As the taping beings, the 28-member cw falls silent an Walters leans forward with solicitous, breathy intensity like someone consoling the dying.  Willie is mystified, then amused.  “Do you like yourself?” Barbara asks.  Wilie does. “Are you serene?” she wants to know. Willie thinks so.  “The crowds, the adulation the women reaching up to you.  What’s it like?”  Willie says it’s not bad at at all.

 

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During a break in the taping, there is a lapse in the pose of intimacy between interviewer and subject.  As Willie sits by, Barbara tensely confers with producer Goldberg.  “What about question 74?  Should I ask that?  Is there anything you thought I missed?  What about 54?”  When the tape rolls again, Walters weighs in with a few formula questions.  (“If you had three wishes what would you do with them?”), then thanks Willie for being her guest.

Decompression at last.  “Okay, Barbara,” teases Willie, “now let’s burn one down.”  Later, the hypothetical joint gone unsmoked, Nelson seems pleased.  “She wasn’t tough at all,” he marvels.  “I was a little concerned about what she might ask about smoking dope and being afraid of getting arrested, but she was a doll.”

The following afternoon, in Los Angeles to edit the tapes, Goldberg and Walters repair to Barbara’s suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel to trim the written transcript of the interview to a size they can work with.   The next morning another limo ferries Walters to the home of tape editor Jim McElroy, where she and Goldberg whittle their 27-minute version almost in half.  Watching the rough cut, Walters slashes away at the script and orders changes in what appears on the screen.  “I like it beter like this… Go to my face when he says, “I’m not complaining’… The Nashville think I liked.  When he went there and he cleaned himself up.  Now our audience is looking at him and thinking, “Why is he so dirty with that bandanna and all that hair?’… Pick up my question on the next page.  Now this is important, JoAnn.  This is one of the few guys who openly smoked pot and always talked about it and always got away with it.”

Finally Walters asks to see herself on the tape.  The imge appears; Barbara is satisfied.  “I look terrific,” she says lightly, “Pretty and bosomy and everything.”  And her subject?  “Will Nelson looks like the oldest 49 I ‘ve ever seen.  No wonder he believes in reincarnation.”  Goldberg agrees.  “There’s an ancient feeling about Willie Nelson,” JoAnn says.  “He’s an old soul.”  But not otherworldly that Barbara simply couldn’t make a contact.  “Whe had the luxury of two days in Austin instead of the normal two hours,” says JoAnn, the organizationl wizzard who is involved in every aspect of the specials except actually asking the questions.  “I felt Barbara needed that to get the feeling of Willie and his life.  We’are careful about who w put her with.  People like Mick Jagger or Bruce Springsteen she might not get.  But she always surprises me.  If you give her enough time, she’llf igure them out.”

Willie Nelson Interview on PBS

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

www.pbs.org

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: Yes?

(LAUGHTER)

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.

JEFFREY BROWN: You are?

(LAUGHTER)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

JEFFREY BROWN: Yes?

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.