Willie Nelson: The Facts of Life (and other dirty jokes)

The Facts of Life: and Other Dirty Jokes
by Willie Nelson

“Our motto in Abbott was, and still is, “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.”  This was written above our black panther logo in the school gym.  I saw it every day.  It must have stuck.  I believe that you can’t lose if you don’t give up.  Even if you die, you’ll die fighting.  I remember one of the Rankin boys saying one day in a basketball game between Abbott and Byrum — someone offended him in some way — he jumped out in the middle of the gym and said, “My mama didn’t raise nothin’ but fighting kids!”  I thought, “What a nice family.”

The Abbott motto has carried me around the world several times, and helped me through a lot of interesting situations.  Like when I first came to Houston.  I hit town with my wife, Martha, and daughters, Lana, age four, and Susie, two.  I was looking for a place to stay and I needed rent money, so I began to search for a place to play.  I found a little place in Pasadena and got a job at the Esquire Ballroom, all the way across Houston, about an hour drive on the Hempstead Highway.

It was a Monday afternoon, about three o’clock.  Larry Butler and his band were rehearsing in the Esquire.  I walked in, sat at a table, and waited until Larry took a break.  I introduced myself and asked Larry if he wanted to buy any songs — ten dollars apiece.  I sang them, “I Gotta Get Drunk” and “Family Bible.”  He said, “Those songs are worth more than ten dollars, but I’ll loan you the money to pay your rent, and I’ll give you a job in my band.”  Thanks, Larry Butler.

One night, Larry was left in charge of the club while the owner Raymond Prosky, went somewhere.  Everything was fine until some drunk started giving the waitress trouble.  Larry came off the bandstand to straighten things out.  Naturally I had to help.  When the dust cleared, Larry had his teeth knocked out and I had two broken ribs.  Thanks, Larry, we’re even.  Just joking.  I owe you a lot more than that.”

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