NOTE: This blog entry originally appeared in July 2008
To me, it’s a little disconcerting to see pictures of Willie Nelson without his trademark beard, bandana and braids. THIS is the Willie I know…
This one, well it’s strange.
Clean-shaven Willie Nelson was trying to fit in with the clean-shaven sound of Nashville in the 1960s. The smooth sounds of Chet Atkins were king, and country music was finding a wider audience with the easy-listening sheen. Try as he might, Willie Nelson never had a hit following the formula. But once Willie returned to Texas, grew his hair out, and started making music in his own way, things changed. Now he’s an icon. And the legends and rumors about Willie are sometimes as mesmerizing as the music. Did he really get high on the White House roof while Jimmy Carter was President? I knew about the four wives, the polygamy (it was a paper work problem), and his troubles with the IRS. I didn’t realize that Willie released a double album called “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories” to help raise money to pay his $16.7 MILLION bill in back taxes! “The IRS Tapes” is just one of more than 200 albums Willie has released. And he has more than 2,000 unreleased tracks, enough songs that we’ll be hearing new Willie Nelson tunes long after he’s sung his last hillbilly song.
Joe Nick Patoski, author of biography, “Willie Nelson: An Epic Life”
“One Hell of a Ride” - The new four-disc box set from Legacy Recordings