A daughter’s personal biography of Willie Nelson
by Susie Nelson
“I wouldn’t want anything to change his loyalty. He has an enormous capacity for being loyal and, as a consequence, people are loyal to him. Paul English stuck with Dad through the lean years, selling his rental property and going without pay in order to help Dad follow his dream. His loyalty and consideration for other extends to everyone around him.
He is almost apologetic whenever he asks anyone to do something for him. ‘It’s almost like he works for you,’ his pilot once told me. He’s still the same appreciative boy from Abbott who used to ask for a ride to the baseball game in West.
In a way, Dad has never left Abbott, never forgotten where he came from. He still drops in on his boyhood friends from Abbott, and he still remembera and keeps in touch with all of the folks who helped him on his way up.
Of course he has never lost his touch with the fans. He will sign autographs as long as there is anybody asking for one. He has said over and over again that he can’t understand performers who think they are bigger than their fans, who won’t sign autographs, who cut the shows short or don’t even show up. ‘I always figure that if my audience shows up, I ought to show up too,’ he says.
The size of the audience doesn’t make any difference. He’ll put on the same show for one person crowded around the bandstand as he will for 70,000 screaming fans.
Dad is an extraordinarily popular figure, a hero and an idol to millions around the world. Very few people in history have the kind of following that Dad has. For some people, going to one of Dad’s concert is like a religious experience.
I think the source of his great and enduring appeal is the fact that he truly believes that in the grand design of the universe, he is no more important, no more unique, no better than any other individual human being on the planet. He communicates a true belief in equality, in tolerance, that we are all in this together. That’s what his music is all about. And that sums Dad up about as well as any I’ve heard.
Paul English tells a story that sums Dad up about as well as any I’ve heard.
After a concert, a woman came up to Dad, ‘I met you in San Antonio five years ago,’ she told him, ‘but I don’t suppose you remember me.’
‘No, I’m sorry, but I don’t,’ he answered, ‘but I sure appreciate you remember me.’
That’s my dad. And I love him.”
— Susie Nelson