2001-08-10 12:02 a.m.
It was 25 years ago that I saw Willie perform for the first time. That was at the Field House at W.T.S.U. in Canyon. I was only in high school at the time and this is how serious I was about his music. I went to that concert alone! A high school girl going to a concert alone. Amazing. It's also amazing how far we've come since then. Probably a kid today never goes to a show without knowing a lot about a performer, having looked at their CD liner notes, gone to their websites, seen their videos. I had heard Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain on the radio and bought the vinyl album The Red Headed Stranger. By the time he came to Canyon I might have already had another 8-track of his music. Yes. I said 8-track. Mostly I knew what Willie Nelson looked like from the drawing on the cover of Red Headed Stranger. I expected a country music type singer to take the stage that night. When a short little man with pigtails and tennis shoes and a tank top walked out I could hardly believe it. Somehow he still makes me swoon. What a guy.
I met Willie for the first time about two years after that concert. He played a big benefit concert at our football stadium along with a full day of other musicians. I was a reporter for the local paper so I got to cover that show and I was in heaven. I have a great picture of me and Willie from that day.
I've seen Willie a lot of times since then. I am no longer a fanatic like I might have been classed in those early days. I haven't bought an album of his in a long while, I still prefer the albums I bought back then. I met Willie again a few years ago at his picnic when Mark was playing with Gary P. Nunn and he was one of the opening acts.
I truly admire Willie for being the man he wants to be, not changing himself or his music or his lifestyle to please anyone but himself. If there is nothing else to learn from him, that is enough.