Know who’s awesome? Willie Nelson. So what if he’s 76 but looks like he’s 106–and a hard 106 at that? So what if he drives around in a bus that runs on something called “Bio-Willie”? So what if his guitar is so battered it actually has holes worn into it by his pick, and his voice resembles a dying cat giving birth to a watermelon? The guy may look like a decrepit hippie-hobo, but with the passing of the man in black it’s impossible to think of anyone as awesome as Willie Nelson. The guy is the embodiment of just plain cool. And as you can see from the photo to the left, Shotgun Willie don’t give a rat’s-ass whether you agree with that or not. That’s how cool he is. He simply sits around in his underwear, bitin’ on a bullet and pullin’ out all of his hair. [I’m actually not quite sure what that means.]
For my birthday this year, my sister and brother-in-law took us see the red-headed stranger, who was performing a show down in Hot Springs yesterday. [I was just corrected by my father, who also contributed to our evening. Mea culpa.–ed.] And, just as when we’d seen him in the past, Willie did not disappoint.
Willie is a work-horse. He came out and quickly entered into his set, stopping only to introduce members of his band. After a song, he’d wait for the applause to crescendo before immediately entering into his next song–one hit after another. What is so enjoyable about his shows is that you’ve likely forgotten just how many classic American songs have come warbling out of this guy’s mouth for the past 50 years until you hear him strike up the familiar chords: Crazy, Georgia on my Mind, Pancho and Lefty, Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain, Whiskey River, Always on my Mind, On the Road Again–50% of the Great American Songbook was probably written and performed by this old guy.
My lovely and vivacious wife and I had seen Willie in the past–most recently at an outdoor concert at a minor league ball-park in St. Paul, MN–but this was our first concert in the south. I don’t know what I expected, but there were no big surprises–a couple of noisy tobacco-chewing guys wearing confederate flag t-shirts was probably the most stereotypical image of the night, although that archetype would likely be in attendance at any Willie concert.
*notice how I avoid the obvious penis reference and instead focus on the subtlety of a Will Smith lyric. THAT, my friends, is maturity.