Willie Nelson Interview
by Frederick Burger
(read part 2 here http://stillisstillmoving.com/?p=2485)
Country Rhythms caught up with Willie in mid-December during a tour of Florida.Â This interview was conducted by Miami Herald Report Frederick Burger.
CR:Â About 30 minutes ago you finished a concert in Jacksonville.Â Tomorrow night you play Tallahassee.Â But we’re on a Lear jet getting ready to fly to Ft. Myers, which is hundreds of miles to the south.Â Why are we doing this?Â Is this something new for you?
WN:Â Sort of, yeah.Â First of all, it’s probably a little warmer down there, a little sunshine down there.Â I’m just trying to take advantage of the situation.Â I don’t know how long I’ll keep this Lear.Â They may come get it tomorrow (laughing).
CR:Â I understand you have been flying back and forth to Austin after shows to play golf for a day and then flying to the gig that night.
WN:Â I’ve been doing it, and I’ve been having fun doing it.Â It’s costing a fortune and I love it.
CR:Â Don’t you like riding the bus anymore?
WN:Â No, I still like riding on the bus.Â It’s just that this gives me a chance to rest a lot between shows, and I figure I can go a lot longer by doing it this way than I can by going up and down the highway in a bus.Â There’s a lot more privacy.Â It’s gotten to the point, fortunately, where theÂ bus draws a lot of heat.Â A lot of people see the bus coming into town.Â This way I can hide out until showtime.
CR:Â The quintessential outlaw hiding out.
WN:Â Right.Â We are outlaws, you know.
CR:Â You don’t really think of yourself as an outlaw.Â That was just hype to sell records.
WN:Â Oh, they thought it was hype, but I’ve always liked Jesse James and Billy the Kid. They were always my favorites.Â It just depends on what you figure an outlaw is, I guess.
CR:Â You and Mickey Raphael (the band’s harmonica player) supposedly have been working on a song for some years called “Life Don’t Owe Me a Living (But a Lear and a Limo Will do).”Â I think I first saw you mention it about five years ago, and you mentioned it again recently.Â Now you’ve got both.
WN:Â I’ve got ’em and I’m glad.
CR:Â One of the things that struck me about the show tonight — and I saw you the last time you played Jacksonville in the spring of 1981 — it was a lot more subdued than the last time.Â When you came out back then, the crowd was screaming, flashbulbs were going off like crazy.Â It seemed more like a listening crowd this time.
WN:Â I’ve seen that happen before.Â The first time or two we go through somewhere there is that almost uncontrolled excitement that starts right out, and it still happens in the cities where we’re going into for the first or second time.Â But usually the cities we go into the third or fourth of time, the same people are there, they’ve just mellowed a little bit and gotten over that first big surge of energy. Like you say, they’re still enthusiatic audiences but they control it better.Â They do sit and listen to the ballads and then boogie with the fast songs.Â I think it’ s just a matter of them being fans a little longer and they’ve calmed down a little bit.Â They turn around and get off on the people who have come for the first time.
CR:Â Well, we just took off.Â Somebody told me you’re buying this Lear.
WN:Â yeah.Â If my credit check goes through okay.
CR:Â How much is it costing?
WN:Â $1.7 million.
CR:Â WHy would you want to spend $1.7 million on a Lear jet?
WN:Â I’ve got to do something.Â The money’s stacking up (laughing).Â I hope Connie (Nelson’s wife) is shopping today.
CR:Â It’s not something that’s flaunted, but everybody does think your’e worth megabucks.Â Paul, though (drummer Paul English) told me not too long ago that you’re the same old Willie he’s always known, that you spend more money than you make.Â That’s not to say you don’t have invstments and other income.
WN:Â I hope that when I did I owe at least a million dollars.Â That’s my goal.Â It used to be $50,000, but I passed that already (laughing).Â That may be what an outlaw is, to go out owing a million.Â That’s the only way to beat the system.
CR:Â It’ll be paid back pretty fast in royalties.Â You’re going to have to think of a better way to do it.
WN:Â I’ll have to buy something else.Â Maybe I’ll buy one for everybody in the band.Â A fleet of Lears.Â Buy all the roadies one, too.
CR:Â What prompted you to buy a Lear instead of leasing one?
WN:Â This is the same plane I’ve been leasing for about a year now.Â It was just a matter of numbers, really.Â I was spending as much leasing it as it’s goingto cost me to buy it.Â I was spending $300,000 to $400,000 to lease it.Â This way I can own it in three or four years.
CR:Â Not that you should care, but I wonder if your fans expect you to be flying around in a Lear.
WN:Â Those who don’t approve probably don’t have to worry.Â They’ll probably repossess it next year, anyway.Â But in the meantime, we’re flying around.
to be continued…