Willie Nelson


Willie Nelson

I saw Willie Nelson last night.  He was performing with the LA Philharmonic.  It started with blue lights, a very soft voice, and ballads that were "OK" but I sat on my hands. At the intermission I noted that he would have been much better, without the Orchestra.

However during the break the stage was changed, the orchestra went home, and Willie, his sister, brother, and two sons plus various back up musicians took the stage. It was a tour de force of country music. The nearly 10,000 in attendance were on their feet.  The 74 year old singer took us from New Orleans to Texas to Jackson to Georgia and of course, "On the Road Again…"

He has written over 2500 songs and performed a couple of new ones that he claimed to have written in the past week. They were great, and I can’t imagine they won’t sell like chili at the county fair.

I began to think about why the words of his music seem to connect with his audience. Perhaps its because they are simple.  There are seldom more than one or at the most two phrases, repeated in various ways.  He makes a point, beautifully, and then moves on.

I also wondered that much of his music isn’t autobiographical. We know his history: hard living, hard loving, and self abusing. He has experienced virtually all of which he writes.

I couldn’t help but think about his battle with the IRS.  He woke up one morning in 1990 to a tax bill of $16 million. After three years and much negotiation, (the had seized all his assets and sold his ranch), he settled with them for $12.5 million and agreed to pay it off over the succeeding five years. WOW

Willie Nelson is as good at 74 as he was at 40, maybe better.  His guitar is on fire, and his voice, right on the mark — Over the two and a half hour concert, he was featured in every song except 2.  He gives his audience its money’s worth.

If you have a chance to see him, take it.  He won’t be around forever — Check out his upcoming dates at his web site. In the next month he’ll be in Austin, TX, Montgomery Alabama, and Camden NJ.



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John Van Horn

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