Sunday, June 20, 2010

WILLIE NELSON

I am a Willie Nelson fan. I don't buy his records, or collect DVDs, but I've seen him, heard him many times and every time I hear him, I love Willie Nelson ...

His voice -- I love the twang in his voice, and his pure tones -- nothing added (no accent, color, or vibration). I love that every word, each syllable is clear, and his guitar -- the pick, his fingers, his strumming hand -- the way he plays it makes it part of him. The worn, understanding, knowing look of him -- humor, sadness, joy -- it's in his eyes, mouth, and bearing. Everything about him speaks to me.

He's seventy-seven. He's had four wives, and he has seven children. He never cut his hair. It got very long. Finally he braided it. And last month, May 26th, he cut it off. He said it was getting to be too much trouble.

Willie Nelson's been in my life as country music, rock, country rock, outlaw country, alternative country; a singer-songwriter, musician, producer, actor, an activist on protecting horses, legalizing marijuana, and world peace. I've loved him in movies -- cameos, important roles, bit parts -- he's always himself, but the part he's playing fits the story.

Never have I been disappointed. Never have I thought -- Willie Nelson's getting old -- he's not as good as he was last time I heard him.

The songs he's sung, his albums -- the titles tell his story. What an artist creates often tells the story of his life better than a biography with dates and details. Willie writes about love, time passing, waiting, hoping, longing, enjoying what's around him.

Early on he wrote: "Family Bible," "Night Life," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Hello Walls."

During one of his divorces he sang -- "Bloody Mary Morning." Later, we heard "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," "Good Hearted Woman," "Remember Me," "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time."

Then, he remarried and sang, "I Love You a Thousand Ways," "Something to Brag About."

He got a bill from the government for $16.7 million in back taxes. "On the Road Again" "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," and his album, "Buy My Memories," paid off everything he owed.

I cheered when he was honored as an artist at the Kennedy Center in 1998. It tickled me when Ben & Jerry's released their new flavor, "Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream." I laughed and enjoyed his song-- "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other." He sang it after "Brokeback Mountain" (the gay-cowboy themed movie with Heath Ledger), became a hit. Willie said, "The song's been in the closet for 20 years."

Recently I've enjoyed, "Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me)," "Beer for My Horses," "Always on My Mind," "Lost Highway."

If you've heard him, seen him recently, you know why I'm paying tribute to him. He's mellower -- that pure tone hits your ears just right -- he's singing better than ever with truth in his eyes.

Yes, I was shocked when he cut off his braids. Short hair makes him look ... well ... more worn, older, like a guy who loves booze.

With or without the braids, I love Willie Nelson.
He doesn't drink liquor -- just beer. I hope he isn't drinking too much beer.

2 comments:

Lynne said...

Willie has one of those faces and voices that tells you he has LIVED. He reminds me of Sondheim's song "I'm Still Here." "Good times and bad times, I've seen them all, and my dear, I'm still here . . ."

Wendy Lane Bailey said...

I've been an admirer of Willie Nelson for many years. His talent as a songwriter and performer is unquestionable but his loyalty and his support of other performers is just as inspiring. As a performer, I truly admire the career he has fashioned for himself by using his own rules and being true to his vision. I once worked with a musical director who would ask "what would Willie do" when working on an arrangement. I think that's a pretty good thought to follow.

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