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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Fighting those ol' winter time blues - with the help of Willie
I am SO weary of winter.
Here’s the thing. I love snow. I love looking out the window and seeing everything covered with the pristine clear magic of snow. And if that was all I had to do every time it snows, I would be a happy girl. Just look at it through the window. Join Donald with taking little walkies with Harley and watch him romp through snow drifts with a big ol’ doggie grin on his face (Harley, NOT Donald - although Donald does like to romp). Watch him lift his face to the sky and blink as he catches snow flakes on his tongue. And laugh at him when he buries his head in it searching, I guess, for some kind of furry critter scent. Who knows what’s going through his mind? But he’s cute and he fills my heart with joy.
Harley does love the snow.
Those are some of the fun things.
As is watching out the window while Donald and Harley take off down the driveway in the snow. Taking off on a great dog & dad adventure. While I sit comfy warm with a book and some music, along with a cup of hot chocolate. With marshmallows.
But. Instead of being able to enjoy all the childlike fun things that come with winter in the mountains is the fact that, being grown-ups, we have to get-up, get dressed in winter gear and get to work. Some of the fun wears off all this fairly quickly.
So we plan and do things we love so as not to get those ol’ winter time blues.
Like go to concerts.
What can pull you out of a funk quicker than just about anything? Music!
And live music is the stuff that makes the world shine.
And if you’re lucky enough to have one of your all time favorite hero performers come to town, you just toss your head back, look at the skies and shout out a very loud, and very proud “Thank You, Lord!”
I adore Willie Nelson.
I’ve been going to Willie Nelson concerts for a long time. My first one was, I think, in 1972. Willie performed at the Georgia Tech Coliseum and sitting on stage with him was then Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, along with his wife Rosalynn. I was immediately converted from a person who liked Willie Nelson, to a life-long fan. And have since then, been to an additional 8 or 9 Willie Nelson concerts. As long as Willie is still performing, and I'm still mobile, I'll continue going to as many as I can get to.
This is a man with that indescribable something that puts a very few, very special people in a category that is impossible to fully explain. We mortals call it charisma. It’s some little spark and sizzle that bathes some people in a special light that most of us don’t have, but recognize as soon as we encounter it. It’s magic, pure and simple.
I have followed the magic of Willie for years and when we heard he would be performing in Boone I may have been the first one here to buy tickets.
The memories and stories of past experiences at Willie Nelson concerts aren’t ones I’m likely to share here. Suffice to say - I was younger then. Attending a Willie Nelson concert is an experience that includes loads more than merely watching a man perform on stage. It’s an adoring audience with faces upturned to a man they love. Truly love. He’s like the Pied Piper, and many’s the old hippie, or old farmer, who’s followed him across the country and back. When it comes to Willie Nelson, folks seem able to put background and politics aside in respect and admiration for a man who will stand by his ideals. Who will put himself on the line to fight for what he believes in - be it his music, or other men’s farms, or wild horses, or our country’s dependence on gasoline.
I attended one of Willie’s 4th of July picnics in 1983 in Hampton, GA. After treking to Hampton from Atlanta with about 20 other people, and spending the night in a hotel room I would not consider sleeping in today, we got up around 4 a.m. to be at the Atlanta International Speedway gates to stake our spot. Loaded down with blankets and coolers, we slowly moved with a few thousand other folks as close to the stage as we could get. Now, I don’t remember who all we saw that day - but I remember the show included David Allen Coe, The Stray Cats, Linda Ronstadt and a whole BUNCH of other people. A whole mixed bag of performers crossing genres and performing from 10 a.m. until Willie closed the show at 3 a.m. the following morning. I still have my T-shirt. One very similar to it recently sold on ebay for $36.00. Thirty-six Dollars! Man - I wouldn’t take a million bucks for that t-shirt! For real. As a matter of fact, I proudly wore it to the concert we went to last week. And I just know if Willie had noticed that shirt, it would have made him right proud.
This concert was different. Willie joined Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel to perform, in addition to some of his own stuff, some old Western Swing. People were still the same adoring fans. But we were all much more - in a word - sedate. Our faces were still upturned to this man we love, but we were gazing into the face of an older, wiser man. Our Willie has grown gracefully into the role of Shaman.
Willie Nelson turned 75 last year.
When I saw him last week, I saw all those 75 years in his face. It’s a face I love. I see wisdom, strength, humor, character, compassion and peace in that face. All the things you hear in his music. He’s a national treasure. And oh my. I enjoyed this show every bit as much as any I’ve been to. I yee-hawed through “Whiskey River” and “On the Road Again,” chuckled during his duet with Elizabeth McQueen singing “I’m Sitting on Top of the World,” and just boo hooed during “Always on my Mind.” And seeing Mickey Rafael up on stage next to Willie, still looking like a kid, still looking at Willie like a star struck kid - even after playing by his side for over 30 years, made me cry.
So it may still be the dead of winter. It may still be cold, with more snow yet to be had, but I have crazy, wild, fun, sweet and lovely Willie Nelson memories - old and new - and a whole big stack of his CD’s to help keep me warm. A husband who will sing Willie's songs to me, and a puppy who will bark along. Right on key. For real.