Willie Nelson, who will be 84 on Saturday, gave an inspiring RodeoHouston performance back in March.
Willie Nelson, who will be 84 on Saturday, gave an inspiring RodeoHouston performance back in March.
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

84 Reasons to Love Willie Nelson

*** His new album, God’s Problem Child, includes a song called “Still Not Dead.”

*** The album will be released this Friday, the day before his 84th birthday.

*** He drew 75,008 fans to his RodeoHouston 2017 concert, helping set a new single-day total attendance record of 185,667.

*** He co-founded Farm Aid.

*** He tosses bandannas to the crowd at most every show.

*** He has the most concise definition of his genre: "Three chords and the truth – that’s what a country song is.”

*** His instantaneous and deeply felt kinship with Snoop Dogg.

*** He used to live in Houston.

*** His picnics.

*** Yesterday’s Wine

*** “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

*** B.B. King’s version of “Night Life”

*** He kept Trigger when the FBI took everything else.

*** Bruce Robison’s “What Would Willie Do?”

*** Willie’s Reserve, retail marijuana

*** Against corporate cannabis.

*** Mickey Raphael, harmonica badass

*** Robert Earl Keen’s “Picnic” story on 1996 live album No. 2 Live Dinner.

*** Supports Bernie Sanders.

*** Across the Borderline

*** “On the Road Again”

*** Patsy Cline’s version of “Crazy”

*** Dislikes Donald Trump (perhaps the only person alive he does).

*** Has made many, many, many, many, many appearances on Austin City Limits.

*** He owns his own biodiesel firm, and it's called BioWillie.

*** He made long hair braids acceptable among the manliest men around.

*** Sister Bobbie and “Down Yonder”

*** He got sewed up in a sheet and beaten with a broom by his ex-wife...and forgave her.

*** He was BFFs with Waylon Jennings

*** Waylon and Willie

*** “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”

*** The Supersuckers’ version of “Bloody Mary Morning”

*** Represents what Texas should be about: freedom, individual rights and individuality.

*** He smoked a joint on the roof of the White House during the Jimmy Carter administration.

*** He made the most successful commercial recording artist in Europe at the time, Julio Iglesias, into a household name in America.

*** His statue in downtown Austin.

*** The Raelyn Nelson Band (Willie’s granddaughter)

*** Willie just said no...to taxes.

*** He is the only known person in human history to be accused (if that is the correct word) of completing a nine-hour sex marathon with a full somersault while still engaged in the act with his partner.

*** Shotgun Willie

*** “Hello Walls”

*** Chris Stapleton’s brand-new version of “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning”

*** Luck, the Old West town/movie set he owns.

*** He and late University of Texas coaching legend Darrell K. Royal were thick as thieves.

*** His 1993 “Graceland” duet with Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live.

*** He stood up for Charley Pride when nobody else would.

*** Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real (Willie’s son)

*** He’s a Taurus, the astrological signifier of practicality, ambition, dependability and sensuality.

*** His Gershwin Prize For Popular Song, awarded in 2015.

*** Spirit

*** “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground”

*** Alison Krauss’s cover of “I Never Cared For You”

*** He makes great gospel music, too; listen to 1976’s The Troublemaker.

*** He’s the only watchable part of the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie.

*** He adores golf.

*** He knows Bob Wills is still the king.

*** The Highwaymen

*** Honeysuckle Rose (the movie)

*** Honeysuckle Rose (the tour bus)

*** Stardust

*** “Always On My Mind”

*** Norah Jones’s version of “Hands On the Wheel”

*** No other octogenarian rocks the pigtails like he does.

*** His friendship and occasional collaborations with the late Ray Price.

*** His mugshot from the Pasadena (TX) PD, c. 1960

*** He has inspired three (count ’em) excellent, very different biographies — Willie by Bud Shrake; Willie Nelson: An Epic Life by Joe Nick Patoski; and his autobiography (with David Ritz), It’s a Long Story: My Life.

*** Timekeeping brothers Paul and Billy English

*** He and Kinky Friedman co-wrote a book called Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.

*** He is a major character in Friedman’s 1997 mystery novel Roadkill.

*** Phases and Stages

*** “Me & Paul”

*** Elvis Presley’s version of “Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away”

*** Old Whiskey River bourbon

*** He used to go by “Wee Willie Nelson” as a DJ in the Pacific Northwest.

*** Instant conversation-stopper whenever people bag on Texas for being a right-wing loony bin: “Willie Nelson is from there.”

*** Bee Spears (RIP) and current Family bassist Kevin Smith

*** He wrote his first song before he learned long division.

*** That cameo in Half Baked.

*** Django and Jimmie, his 2015 joint album with Merle Haggard

*** “Pancho & Lefty”

*** Willie’s version of “Write Your Own Songs”

*** He’s the only pothead my dad ever liked.

*** He’s still playing live shows at a rate that should humble musicians half his age.

*** Happy birthday, Willie!

Written by Selena Dieringer, Jack Gorman, Chris Gray, Matthew Keever, Chris Lane, David Rozycki and Jesse Sendejas Jr.

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