“A friend of mine once said, ‘It’s my mouth, I’ll haul coal in it if I want to,’ ” Nelson says. “I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool. I’ll use that.’ I don’t think anybody should tell me or you or anybody what to do. I think the Bible says it’s not what goes into your mouth that counts; it’s what comes out.” – Willie Nelson
“City of New Orleans” isn’t a song about New Orleans. It’s a song about a train called the City of New Orleans. Willie Nelson didn’t write it. But he made it a Grammy Award-winning hit in 1984.
Looking back, it’s easy to see how Willie Nelson came to it. Over the course of his career—a five-decade ramblin’ run that spans recordings as far back as 1962 and as recent as last year—Willie has written endlessly about his affection for (and occasional vexation with) cities across the land.
These are all of those places. Well, a whole hell of a lot of them, anyway.
Billy Joe Shaver has had more than enough heartache to require therapy. In 2007, he shot a man in the face during an altercation outside a Waco, Texas, area bar and was charged with aggravated assault. He was ultimately acquitted and turned the ordeal into a song, “Wacko From Waco.” When he was 21, he lost two fingers on his right hand in a sawmill accident (“I ain’t no finger-pointer,” he quips, “I can’t”). He married one of his wives, Brenda, three separate times and lost her to cancer in 1999. Around that same time, his mother died. Then on the morning of December 31, 2000, his son and creative partner Eddy Shaver, a fiery guitarist who recalled Stevie Ray Vaughan, was found dead of a heroin overdose.
A grieving Shaver performed that same evening at a New Year’s Eve concert with Willie Nelson.
“Willie put a band together. My band just went nuts, they all flaked out and went off crying and stuff. But Willie called me up…and said, ‘Billy, you gotta get back on the horse,'” Shaver says. “And I’m an old cowboy, I know what he’s talking about. So I got up there. Most the people that came didn’t even know about Eddy passing away. Every once in a while, later on at night, you’d see some couple going out crying. They had heard about it.”
Yet, despite his seeming composure that night, Shaver was also incensed and considered revenge for his son’s death.
“I spent the night over at Willie’s house and we sat up and talked all night about it. I was going to go back out there, ’cause I knew where [the drugs] came from — that drug dealer, I would have shot him up and killed him instead of calling the police,” Shaver says. “I was going to go kill that bunch. But Willie talked me out of it. He said, ‘You’re best just leaving it alone.’ And I did. I just left it alone. But you don’t ever forget something like that.”
With the second-longest span between No. 1s in the chart’s 50-year history, and the longest for a living artist, Willie Nelson closes a 28-year gap at the Top Country Albums summit, as “Band of Brothers” arrives as his 12th leader with 37,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Nelson had last reached No. 1 when “The Promiseland” spent its first of two weeks atop the May 31, 1986, list.
The only artist with a longer break between topping the chart is Johnny Cash, who spanned 35 years between “Man in Black” (1971) and “American V: A Hundred Highways” (2006). Cash died in 2003. That means your favourite new country performer would have to keep performing and hitting No. 1 around2050 or so to break the record – without having a No. 1 album in between.
On a side note, I love Nelson because of his environmental actions – he owns the bio-diesel brand Willie Nelson Biodiesel, which is made from vegetable oil. Nelson is also the honorary chairman of the Advisory Board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas.
Miranda Lambert’s Platinum tops Billboard’s country albums chart for the second week in a row while Brett Eldredge’s “Beat of the Music” scoots into first place on the airplay rankings following a 38-week climb.
The big Taylor Swift news this week is that she got another kitten. It is an adorable kitten named Olivia Benson — after the Law & Order character played by Mariska Hargitay — that makes her about 100 times cuter.
Is it fun to be a country star? Sure is. Luke Bryan was like a kid in a candy shop last week when he hit the field of Busch Stadium for a little batting practice with the St. Louis Cardinals. Sporting his own custom jersey, Luke hopped into the batting cage. He managed to hit a few line drives and shared plenty of laughs with the players. They seemed just as much in awe of Luke being there as the singer was of being there with them. Amidst the fun, Luke took to his Instragram page, where he posted a short video to allow his fans in on some of the action.
If you know anything about Kip Moore besides the fact that he’s a talented singer and songwriter, it’s that he’s as honest as the day is long. And his tolerance for things that are unjust or unfair, especially when it comes to his fans, is pretty limited. OK . . . that tolerance is actually nonexistent. Kip loves his fans. The other thing he has zero tolerance for is ticket scalpers. In a handwritten letter he shared on his Facebook page, Kip shows off that dedication to his fans’ well-being and his opposition to the shady business of reselling tickets to his shows. Kip writes, “I know what it’s like to live on a strict budget and wish you had funds to take your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, friend, daughter, son, etc. to a show or game, but you just can’t afford to.” He then lists several things that “piss him off” including “the thing that pisses me off the most is scalpers. I could sit back and ignore it, because I know it’s a losing battle, but I just can’t do that.”
Ray Stevens is known and beloved to fans as a versatile musician, comedian, singer and songwriter. Now you can add author to Ray’s list of accomplishments. Ray is set to release his book Ray Stevens’ Nashville, detailing his life and career, on June 22. Nashville takes readers from Ray’s humble upbringing in Georgia to his musical career in Nashville, where he became a successful singer, songwriter and music publisher.
Summer is here, which means the always-fun Teen Choice Awards are around the corner. The nominations have been announced and voting is underway, so get ready because some of your favorite country stars are in the running for the show’s signature surfboard trophy. And not just in country music categories! Taylor Swift has a nod for overall Choice Female Artist and for Choice Smile. And actress-turned-recording-artist Lucy Hale grabs a nomination in the Choice TV Actress: Drama for her part in Pretty Little Liars.
The country categories are as follows:
CHOICE MALE COUNTRY ARTIST
CHOICE FEMALE COUNTRY ARTIST
CHOICE COUNTRY GROUP
Florida Georgia Line
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
For a complete list of all the nominees, and to cast your vote (teens only), go to teenchoiceawards.com. The Teen Choice Awards take place Aug. 10 on FOX. Hosts, performers and presenters will be announced in the coming days.
Lady Antebellum enlisted a couple of famous friends for a drink-off in their new music video for their latest single, “Bartender.” The trio premiered the video, starring Kate Upton and Arrested Development’s Tony Hale, Thursday morning on NBC’s Today. Directed by Shane Drake, the video stars Kate and her friends on a girls’ night out, which ends with bartender Tony slinging his best shots in an effort to win an epic drinking battle. Willie Nelson’s Texas ranch, named “Luck,” suffered heavy damage from high winds as storms blew through the state last week. The ranch was built in 1986 to look like an authentic Western town as the set of his film, Red Headed Stranger. Willie shared the news of the damage on Facebook. “Our beautiful Luck wasn’t so lucky recently,” he wrote. “Last week’s tornado-force winds ripped several buildings apart, including the bank, the post office, and left World Headquarters holding on by a splinter.” The ranch, not open to the public, includes a church, bank and post office and has been used during SXSW’s Heartbreaker Banquet. Despite the damage, Willie was still able to find the “luck” in the situation. “We are happy to report no one was hurt and the church only had a few windows blown out,” he said. “Some towns got it a lot worse, so we aren’t complaining. Luck is a tough town. It can be rebuilt.”
With a total of six nominations, Miranda Lambert leads the field for the 2014 CMT Music Awards.
The nominees were revealed Monday morning (May 5) across CMT’s digital platforms by the cast of the network’s Party Down South through short video vignettes filmed at the house where the cast has been living while taping the second season of the hit series. The new season of Party Down South premieres June 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Voting is now underway at CMT.com and continues until June 1 at midnight ET.
Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan follow Lambert with five nominations each, while Keith Urban and Taylor Swift are tied with four each. Blake Shelton and Hunter Hayes each pulled in three nominations, and two each went to Carrie Underwood, Cassadee Pope, Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Lady Antebellum, Pistol Annies, The Band Perry, Thomas Rhett and Tim McGraw.
Other nominees include Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Dan + Shay, David Nail, Dierks Bentley, the Eli Young Band, Jake Owen, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Randy Houser, Rascal Flatts, Sheryl Crow, Thompson Square, Tyler Farr, Willie Nelson and the Zac Brown Band. Additionally, nominations also went to Fall Out Boy, Jason Mraz, Lionel Richie, Neil Young, Nelly and OneRepublic for their collaborations with country artists.
Now in its 13th year, the 2014 CMT Music Awards will air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on June 4 at 8 p.m. ET. Performers, presenters and this year’s host will all be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets for the show will go on sale Saturday (May 10) at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT at all Ticketmaster outlets and the Bridgestone Arena Box Office.