Willie Nelson’s career is kind of mind-boggling. Born in Abbott, Texas at the height of the Great Depression, he started playing music when his grandfather gave him a guitar at age 6. Eighty years later, Nelson is still immersed in the Country-based music that captured his imagination when he joined his first band, a local outfit curiously dubbed Bohemian Polka.
Nelson initially made his name as a songwriter for the likes of Ray Price and Patsy Cline in the 1960s. He broke through as the guy we know today via a series of singer/songwriter albums in the mid-1970s (many consider the somber, sometimes harrowing Red Headed Stranger Nelson’s masterpiece), and he crested commercially in 1982 with his cover version of “Always on My Mind,” which won a Grammy.
Then there’s his unabashed love of marijuana — Nelson is perhaps the world’s most famous pothead and he’s been a fervent supporter of legalization long before that was something most envisioned as even remotely possible.
Nelson has toured extensively over the last 40 years, each excursion highlighting a variation of the Texas-flavored Country & Western music he grew up on — an approach that incorporates elements of Folk, Rock, Bluegrass, Jazz and even Pop standards, always anchored by his weathered, ever-expressive voice.
Nelson’s 69th and latest studio album, this year’s Ride Me Back Home, is classic Willie, a timeless mix of cover tunes and originals. It includes a version of Mac Davis’ “It’s Hard to Be Humble,” which finds Willie, aided by sons Lukas and Micah, delivering the lines, “Lord it’s hard to be humble/But I’m doing the best that I can.”
“I think God is love, period,” Nelson said in a recent cover-story interview with Rolling Stone. “There’s love in everything out there — trees, grass, air, water. Love is the one thing that runs through every living thing.
“Everybody loves something: The grass loves the water. That’s the one thing that we all have in common, that we all love and like to be loved. That’s God.”
An illness forced Nelson — who is prominently featured in the great new PBS docu-series about the history of Country music — off of the road earlier this summer but he's back at it and bringing his Outlaw Music Festival to Riverbend Music Center this Sunday, Sept. 22 for the venue's latest sold-out show of the 2019 season.
UPDATE: From riverend.org:
Due to personal reasons, Brothers Osborne will not be performing at the Outlaw Music Festival at Riverbend Music Center this Sunday, September 22. Jamestown Revival will join Willie Nelson & Family, Luke Combs, Bonnie Raitt, and Derek Alan Band as support for the sold-out concert.