Willie Nelson: how do I love you? Let me count the ways. The last time I saw Willie live –2001 if I recall correctly – I was knocked out by his unassuming attitude and his sense of equity. Some aging stars – like Tom Jones – are used to getting women’s knickers thrown towards them on-stage. At the show I saw, women walked their undies down the aisle to hand them to Willie and he in turn removed an item of his own – like the red scarf around his forehead or a hat – to offer them something in exchange.
I love Willie’s battles with the authorities, his open dope love and his exquisite voice. I love that for decades he has been touring with his older sister Bobbie, who accompanies him on piano. He continues, at 77, to tour, record and do fundraisers.
Why do I love him? Oh those braids! I was always a sucker for braids.
Willie is no hypocrite and he’s no chilled-out stoner: he’s an activist. He’s worked for NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) for many years and is a trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum. He’s been involved in environmental struggles for decades, is a mainstay of FarmAid, and is one of the key investors in a bio-diesel company.
I found out on Wikipedia that Willie was a passionate supporter of Dennis Kucinich’s primary campaign. “In January 2008, Nelson filed suit against the Texas Democratic Party. Nelson alleges that the party violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution when it refused to allow co-plaintiff Dennis Kucinich to appear on the primary ballot because he had scratched out part of the loyalty oath on his application.”
But most urgently, there’s his music – his voice and his guitar. Check out both on this lovely clip of “Funny How Time Slips Away.”
Willie is not slowing down. There’s Willie’s 2006 song release: "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other,” his musical push for gay rights (see the clip below). He had earlier become an AIDs activist after losing a close friend. In 2007 he founded the “Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute.”
Here’s his "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other,” put to some Brokeback Mountain footage, as I couldn’t find any decent footage of Willie singing these amazing lyrics. (Click on the youtube link)
Long live Willie Nelson!