Country Weekly Magazine (9/6/94) Willie Nelson Interview

photo: Glenn Dawn

Country Weekly
September 6, 1994
Willie Nelson:  The Biggest Heart in Country Music

“He’s always been one of those giving-type persons.  He’d give you the shirt off his back.”

“I knew Willie when he first came to town and he was trying to get his songs going,” said Hillous Butrum, an original member of the late Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys band.  “I don’t guess there’s anyone, other than maybe Ernest Tubb, who has done so much for his fellow man than Willie Nelson.”

His home state of Texas has benefited, as well.  Last spring he traveled to Hillsboro, Texas, to headline a benefit concert to save the century-old country courthouse that was ravaged by fire.

One of Willie’s latest causes is Ernest Krikova, 70, of Nebraska, who is serving five months in the Leavenworth, Jan., federal penitentiary.Â

In a desparate moment – after a loan went bad, he declared bankruptcy, his wife died, and his family needed food so he sold some hogs that the bank had alread repossessed.  The bank had him arrested.  “I talked to President Clinton,” Willie told us.  “He said would look into it.  I also called the Attorney General [Janet Reno] and her office said the same thing.”

“His son is trying to get some help for him, and a lot of other people are.  So hopefully good things will happen.  Ideally, we can get him out of prison and get him pardoned by the president.  There’s been talk of a benefit concert to buy the guy’s farm back.  I think that would be the best of all possible worlds.”

Tammy Wynette’s brother-in-law, Paul Richey, is putting together the benefit.  Richey told Country Weekly that he had early commitments from Tammy, Willie and Marty Stuart.  He’s hoping to add major stars to the concert and is aiming for a late September or early October show.

“We’re trying to decide where and when we’re actually going to hold it.  These things do take time.  We just want to get it done for Ernest,” said Richey.

Willie’s next confirmed charity event:  Sept. 18 at the Louisiana Superdome.  Farm Aid VII will bring together John Conlee, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Willie to host the continuing effort to save family farms.  Kris Kristofferson, the Neville Brothers, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allan Coe and a few surprise artists also will perform.

“This Farm Aid will have fewer acts and longer shows by the individual acts,” Willie said.  “First of all, it’s more economical.  We save money by not having to have that big spinning stage, which you nearly have to have with 60 or 70 acts coming in one day.  By reducing the number of acts, we can let the guys go ahead and do a 30 or 45 minutes show.”

Somehow, he’s still able to take care of personal business.

He just finished another album of classic songs for his new record label, Liberty, to be released late this fall.  Produced by label head Jimmy Bowen, it’s tentatively titled Crazy, after the Patsy Cline classic Willie wrote.  He performs it on the album, which includes five more of his own songs and four other standards – all produced by extraordinary producer Don Was.

The Redheaded Stranger delcared to Country Ws\eekly:  “It’s one of the best albums I’ve had since Stardust I think.”

Bowen reportedly has long itched to produce the legendary singer/songwriter, who was inducted last year into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The two men share a passion for golf and have even managed to play a few rounds together in Nashville and L.A.

Meanwhile, on October. 31 in a Los Angeles studio, Nelson will join Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson to begin recording another Highwaymen album.

“It should be remarkable.  I can’t wait,” said Rothbaum, who managers Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings, as well as Nelson.  “Just to see those four guys together – – They’re going to make an album unlike anything thye’ve ever done, in that they’ll all be together, choosing the music together.  It should be something.”

Kristofferson has stated that being around WIllie is a lot like hanging out with Buddah — he gives off such calming spiritual vibes.  Willie things he has no special gift.

“I like to think that whatever power I or you or anybody else has, there’s no power goiing around that any one guy has an exclusive one,” Willie said.  “But I think once you start being aware of that, then things can get a lot more fun and life can be a lot easier.”

Willie and son Lukas, Farm Aid 1992

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