Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Willie

Considering I’ve lived in Austin most of my life, it would be quite a feat if I hadn’t learned all of the lyrics to songs like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” or “Time of the Preacher”. My mother must have played the album Red Headed Stranger twelve million times throughout my childhood and adolescent years. But even if my mother had never played Willie Nelson’s music until my ears bled, I would have certainly heard his music on bar jukeboxes, heard his name in association with countless live music events, and seen his face on T-shirts around town. In other words, Willie is everywhere.

I never truly acknowledged my affection for Willie Nelson until I
recently spent 2 ½ years in North Carolina attending library school. Local radio stations did not play Willie’s songs on the radio, Willie never came to town to perform a live show, and I never found any of his albums on the jukeboxes at the local bars. I didn’t really notice this, though, until my second visit back to Austin. I flew into ABI, hopped in my rental car, turned on the radio, and there was Willie singing “Whiskey River”. And it didn’t stop there; the station I was listening to decided to play three more of his songs back-to-back. I found myself on I35, gazing at the capital, tears in my eyes, thinking to myself, “Man, I am such a sap!” But what I realized is that, to me, Willie Nelson’s music is as integral a part of Austin as the capital building. Willie is home.

So a big happy 75th birthday to Willie Nelson, an Austin treasure! As you can imagine, many Austin organizations are doing much to celebrate. Check out Austin 360’s birthday celebration site complete with places for fans to send Willie birthday wishes and share their Willie stories and/or pictures. Tonight KGSR will be broadcasting several hours of all things Willie Nelson including a 3 hour live set by various local artists covering Willie Nelson songs. Finally, you can download and listen to an awesome feature about Willie’s rise to fame on the KUT website. But really the best way to celebrate is to come down to the Austin Public Library and check out our awesome collection of all things Willie, only some of which is listed below.

Heart Worn Memories: A Daughter’s Personal Biography of Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life

Willie Nelson Family Album

Waylon and Willie: The Full Story in Words and Picture of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

Willie writing about Willie
The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes

Willie Nelson: An Autobiography

The Electric Horseman

Honeysuckle Rose

Phases and Stages

Poncho and Lefty

Red Headed Stranger


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