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Willie Nelson

Neil Young’s annual Bridge School benefit concert will be headlined this year by Metallica and Roger Waters — in addition to Young himself, with other amazing artists including Willie Nelson, Cage the Elephant, My Morning Jacket, and Norah Jones. The benefit takes place October 22 and 23 in Mountain View, California.

“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

From CityLab:

“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.

From Rolling Stone:

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.”

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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.