Willie Nelson, Cowboy and Indian

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

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

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

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

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