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B. B. King
Alan Lomax
Willie Nelson


Willie Nelson

Can you describe the kind of music you heard growing up?

Well, I heard everything. We lived just across the street from two houses of Mexicans, they played their music day and night with their radio. So I was educated early in life on "south of the border" music. Most of the people that I lived and grew up with around there in Abbot [Texas] were Czechoslovakians. I learned a lot of polkas and waltzes. And from working in the fields with a lot of the black folks there, I learned a lot of blues. And working and going to church, I learned gospel. So I was pretty educated on a lot of different kinds of music while I was still pretty young.

That's great. In Texas, there's a kind of theme of dancing all Saturday night and praying all Sunday. People were all dispersed on the ranches, and they would come in and make community by having dances and so forth because the people were way out in the forests. Is that something you experienced?

Well, the town that I grew up in was a dry county, so if anyone wanted a beer they had to drive six miles south to a town called West Texas. Now down there, they danced and partied, and I'm sure a lot of those, you'd see them in church on Sunday morning. Because I played a lot of those bars down there in the early part of my life, I saw a lot of people from Abbot down there on a Saturday night, and I'd see them again on Sunday morning. So it wasn't that unusual.

How did you come to start playing music?

My grandparents raised me from the time I was sixth months old, and they were both music teachers, so they started out giving us voice lessons. My sister didn't really take to singing that much, but I enjoyed it, so I took all the lessons that I could from them. And they taught me to play, they taught my sister to play. My grandmother played the organ, piano a little bit, so she got a piano and an organ for our house early. My granddad got me a guitar when I was six years old. So from that time on, we were picking.

Where'd you get those early guitars? Guitars were just being mastered then, right?

Mostly there were Harmonies and Stellas back in those days, and I had a six dollar Stella for my first guitar.

When did you decide to become a musician, and what influenced you?

I think I always thought I was. I never even thought about doing anything else. I take that back. There was a while when I thought maybe I might want to get a law degree or something, so I went to Baylor University in Waco. I decided pretty quickly that I'd rather stay in music.

Can you describe your relationship with Johnny Gimble and who he was for somebody who wouldn't know?

Well, I first met him when he was playing with Bob Wills. And he left Bob's band and came back to his hometown in Waco and put together a band. I played with him on a few dates when he would be looking for a guitar player or a vocalist. And he turned me on to Django Rheinhart and to some great music and musicians.

Johnny Gimble was and is one of the greatest musicians, violinists, fiddle players, whatever you want to call him. We played a lot of music together around Waco and Texas. He played on my "Spirit" album, he played on the "Night and Day" instrumental album, and we've played on maybe eight or ten albums together over the years and an incredible amount of shows.

Now he turned you on to Django, and Django's been a big influence on you for a long time.

Yeah, Johnny Gimble gave me some Django tapes back in those days. And after listening to Django and his music, I began to see where a lot of other music had come from, including a lot of the Western Swing. I could see that a lot of guitar players had heard of Django, and fiddle players like Johnny Gimble had definitely heard of Stephan Gripelli. So there were a lot of things there that I had seen in the Django tapes that I had heard before. And my dad played pretty good fiddle and pretty good guitar, but he sounded a little bit like Django and the rhythms that Django and his brother played. Before I really knew it, I had been introduced to Django.

Bob Wills was also a big influence, right? Can you describe him?

Bob Wills was my hero in those days. He was a bandleader; I wanted to be a bandleader. He had an incredible association and relation with his band. They watched him all the time, and he only had to nod or point his fiddle bow, and they would play. And they respected him a lot, and it was mutual respect. So I always thought that he was the greatest bandleader that I had seen.

His music's a real American music, a real combination of different sounds. For somebody who's not familiar with it, can you kind of break it down?

Well, the Bob Wills music, Western Swing music, is a combination of jazz and blues and that's about it, I think.

Can you talk about the kind of music that came out of the honky-tonks?

Well, again, I think it was the blues connection that made these songs - the blues and the jazz that made even the country songs that we were all playing. We played them with that Bob Wills-Django influence whether we knew it or not. So it came out different. I think that had a lot to do with it. Now when we play 'Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,' it still has a little blues feeling to it.

Were there certain blues artists when you were growing up that were significant?

Well, I loved Ray Charles and Satchmo (Louis Armstrong), and Louis Jordan. As far as blues were concerned, the first blues that I remember hearing, other than what I heard in the cotton fields and the juke boxes around West Texas, was the Bob Will's music - the 'Milk Cow Blues,' and 'Basin Street Blues,' and all this blues that was coming from Western Swing.

He borrowed a lot of stuff called hokum blues. I don't know if you're aware of that - that was coming out of the black community, kind of bawdy stuff. Could you talk at all about that?

Well, it was obvious that he was getting it somewhere. He was getting that blues feeling, and it was showing up in his music. That's why his music, I think, was so danceable. He was one of the biggest, greatest club bands, dance hall bands ever. I promoted him one time when I was fourteen years old, me and my brother-in-law.

What does that mean?

Well, I bought him and put on a show in Whitney, Texas. And Bob showed up, and he played, and we paid him, and it was a hell of a deal.

How important was radio to him and his audience in that circuit that he played in the Southwest? Didn't radio kind of determine the touring circuit that he was on?

Well, radio and jukebox. Plus, he had a radio show in, I think it was Dallas or Fort Worth and he played music daily there. Two different times in his career he had a radio show there in Dallas and Fort Worth. He came back years later when he opened up what later turned into Dewey Grove's Lawn-mowing Club - it used to be Bob Will's Lawn-mowing Club. And he had a radio show there, daily, from Arlington, Texas. I went over a couple times and sang with him on his radio show. I'd sing 'San Antonio Rose,' and my phrasing was a little different from Tommy Duncan's, so he didn't really know where to come in and "Ah-ha" at.

The honky-tonk scene, how did that develop in the dance scene in Texas?

Early in life, I wound up in the beer joints in Texas, in West and Waco and different places, because that's where I earned my money. I learned to play Lefty Frizzell and Bob Wills and Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff, and whoever was hot at the moment on the jukebox.

Did you play that Jacksboro Highway? Can you describe what that is?

Well, I played a lot in Fort Worth in those early days, and I played a lot out on the Jacksboro Highway, which was the location of a whole lot of beer joints. Back in those days, Fort Worth itself was a pretty wild place, so naturally all the beer joints were subject to be wild at any given time.

When did you first become aware of Ernest Tubb?

I listened to Ernest Tubb on the radio when I was a kid growing up. He had a radio show in Fort Worth, and he came on every day and did a fifteen-minute radio show. I couldn't have been over 6 or 8 years old. So I was turned on to his music real early. I learned most all his songs, 'Walking the Floor Over You.' Back there in the war he did 'On My Way to Italy.' Remember that?

I don't.

Floyd Tillman did a song called 'Each Night At Nine.' It was about a soldier. I was turned on to Ernest Tubb, Floyd Tillman, Leon Payne…back in those days those were the folks that I really listened to.

Do you remember when you started hearing the electric guitar in Ernest's music at all?

Well, I heard some guitar... naturally in Bob Wills's music, he had electric guitar in there. Ernest Tubb had electric guitar in his music. So I was hearing electric guitars in country music pretty early.

Do you think the music was played a little louder in these dance halls because people were dancing?

One time I was flying on an airplane, and I just happened to sit next to Bill Anderson. He says, "You do pretty good in those clubs in Texas. I just can't seem to catch on down there. Can you give me any pointers?" I said, "Well, I think they drink beer louder than you sing." And he laughed a little and said, "You're probably right."

What about Ernest's vocal style? Can you describe that? It's a little different.

I was one of the few guys who could do a pretty good Ernest Tubb imitation. He had, to me, the perfect Texas voice. I thought that he personified what I thought someone from Texas should sound like. He was a gentleman, he could talk well and intelligently, and I just loved his voice.

Later you joined up with him, and when you went into Nashville you had a role on his TV show.

Ernest and I did about, I don't know, a hundred and fifty television shows together. With Jack Green and Cal Smith and the Johnson Sisters and Wade Ray, and that was probably some of the best times of my life.

You sang a lot of gospel songs on that show, right?

Well, I had written some songs, 'Family Bible,' and two or three different songs, 'Kneeling at the Foot of Jesus.' So I did them occasionally on those television shows.

Can you tell us how you got to Houston from the circuit that you were playing?

Well, I was playing around Waco and decided to go to Houston and play. I went down there to look for a job, stopped at a place called Esquire Club, it was a Monday afternoon, I went in, and there was a band rehearsing. And it was Larry Butler (not the Larry Butler from Nashville but the Larry Butler from Houston, it's a different Larry Butler). And I listened to them rehearse and drank a beer, and after they took a break I introduced myself to Larry, and told him I wanted to sell him some songs. And he said, "Well, OK, play me some of them." I played him two or three of the songs, and he said, "Well, I love the songs. How much you want for them?" I said, "Ten dollars a piece." He said, "No, they're worth more than that, but I'll loan you some money and give you a job if that'll help you." So he did.

Some of those songs were 'Night Life,' 'Crazy.'

'Mr. Record Man,' 'I Gotta Get Drunk, I Sure Do Regret It,' 'Hello Walls,' no, 'Hello Walls' I hadn't written yet…

When did you meet Billy Walker?

Well, I met Billy first in Waco. He was called the Traveling Texan, the Masked Texan, and he played the guitar and sang, and went up and down the highway, and played the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. I got to meet him one time when I played the Jamboree. And then later on in life I found myself in Springfield, Illinois, and it just so happened that Billy Walker was on the Springfield Jamboree up there with Red Foley and all the guys. I wanted to try out for a job there, so I looked up Billy Walker, and he took me to his house and took care of me and tried to get me a job with a publishing company there. I stayed around a few days and couldn't really find a job and moved on South down to Houston.

When you were growing up, Lefty was somebody that influenced you. Can you talk about him, what made him special?

Well, I heard his music on the jukebox all the time in Texas. He had songs like 'If You Got the Money, I Got the Time,' 'Always Late,' 'I Love You a Thousand Ways,' 'Blue Quiet Thoughts Will Do,' and these were all very hot tunes in Texas. I didn't get to meet Lefty until years later when we were both in Nashville, but I was a big, huge fan of his.

Did a tribute record to him?

Yes, I did.

Also, Hank Williams was probably coming into prominence as you were emerging?

Yeah, well, Hank and Lefty were moving along about the same time there. And Hank had big hits like 'Lovesick Blues,' and 'Move It On Over,' and 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry,' and I knew all those songs because they were always requested. They were on the jukebox, and I learned everything on the jukebox.

What made him special as a writer? He could really deal with pain and loneliness.

Well, that's exactly right. He knew how to write about it, and write about life in terms that all of us can understand.

With both those guys, their careers were kind of cut short. Can you talk about that?

Hank died, I think, when he was 29 years old. Lefty Frizell lived longer than that. They both lived pretty hard and fast.

When did you decide to go to Nashville?

I was living in Houston, and I had a song called 'Family Bible,' that had been recorded by Claude Gray. It had become a number one song, and I decided that if I was ever going to, it was time to make a trip to Nashville and check it out. So I left my family in Houston and drove up there and again ran into Billy Walker, and he took me in again. My family got up there, and he took them in. And we lived with him for a couple of three weeks.

Billy describes you meeting him in a barn. I guess you were in a car because you had just come up and you were trying to get established, and he invited you to live at the house. Is that right?

That's right. It was a nice period. I went up there not knowing anything hardly, or anybody, and pretty quick I happened to sort of get inside thanks to guys like Billy Walker and Faron Young and people like that. One of the first guys I met there was Charlie Dig who happened to be married to Patsy Cline.

What was the music business like in Nashville? When you went there, what did you find in terms of the way the writers and the artists were controlled and how records were made?

Well, I don't think there's any difference today than there was then. Whoever puts up the money wants to call the shots. If you can get by that, if you can get somebody to put up the money or put up your own money, go in and record your own album and say here it is, you might be better off. You might have a better chance because it's real competitive. It's more competitive, probably, in Nashville now than it was when I went there.

You had almost no problem getting established as a songwriter, right? I mean, your talents were really pretty quickly recognized as a songwriter.

Yeah, I was very fortunate to get listened to by some people who could really do something. For instance, Charlie Dig, Faron Young who went to the studio and recorded 'Hello Walls,' and 'Congratulations.' It was a lot easier than I expected it to be.

But you also wanted to be a performer.

I was a performer when I came to town, and it was difficult to find places to perform in Nashville. The bars and the clubs weren't as plentiful as they were in Texas.

You were playing with Ray Price too, or was that later?

When I was there in Nashville, after a while Ray Price called me. He owned the publishing company that I was writing for. He called me and asked me if I could play bass. I said, "Of course, can't everybody?" Johnny Paycheck, who, at that time, was going under the name of Donny Young, was playing bass for Ray Price, and Donny quit and went to California. So Ray called, and I was writing for him. So I joined up with Ray, and I played with him for over a year. By the way, I learned to play bass in Nashville on the way to the first gig.

Some people described the music that was coming out of there as being pretty cookie-cutter during that time: lush arrangements; artists didn't really have a say. Very controlled. Not a lot of individuality.

One of the biggest problems, I thought, is that you had three hours to do four songs. That's hard to do, especially if the band is not familiar with the songs when they get there. I always wanted to go in with my band and do it, because I knew we could knock them out. And it would be something that we could go out and perform, and it would be like the record. But that's hard to do now.

What made you decide to leave Nashville?

I was working, most of my dates in Texas, driving back to Nashville mainly to work the Grand Ole Opry. Because you had to be there six months out of the year you had to work the Opry. You had to be there on Saturday night. I was working in Texas a lot, and it was really wearing me out, going back and forth just to get there Saturday night, and then go back to Fort Worth on Sunday. I finally left the Opry and decided that I would move to Texas. My house burned, so it gave me a real good excuse to leave early.

When that happened, you kind of found a new audience.

Well, I found the old audience again. I was raised up in the Texas beer joints, and they knew me a lot better when I left Nashville than they probably do in Nashville now. So when I got back to my old beer joints, I was at home again and met a lot of my old waitresses that took care of me. So, no, I got back to Texas, I got back in my element.

You seem to pick up a young element, a hippie element not usually associated with country music.

That's true. I started playing places where a lot of hippies hung out, like Devil Road Headquarters in Austin, and different places around different towns. They would have their special places - the hippies went here, the rednecks went here. I tried to play in both places.

Your music didn't really change during this period. I think you may have changed a little physically, but your music pretty much stayed on course, right?

I was trying to prove the point that the same people would like the same thing if they ever got together and listened to it. Hank Williams never fails. He would bring [people] together wherever [I went]. When I was playing with Ray Price, we'd always do a little Hank Williams. Of course, nobody knew who I was, so everything I did on those shows were other people's songs, until 'Bela Walsh,' came out. But Hank Williams was my savior every night.

How did the whole outlaw thing come about? Was that marketing or a real thing, I mean, I know that there was this record that came out with you and Tom [Collins]. What was really behind that?

I think a lady wrote an article at the time that calls us outlaws. And someone picked up on it.

I think her name was Helen. I should know her name. She was a writer in Nashville, and she wrote an article about me and Waylan and Chris and a bunch of us and called us the Outlaws. I loved her for it, I thought it was great. Someone came along and decided it was a good marketing name, so all of a sudden now we were Outlaws, and there was an album out called "Outlaws" with me and Jesse and Tom and Waylan on it, and we did pretty good.

Where did 'Red-headed Stranger' come in?

'The Red-headed Stranger' is a song that was written by Arthur Smith.- no, I think it was written by two more people. But Arthur Smith recorded it back in the '50s. I was a disc jockey then in Fort Worth, and I used to play it every day. I had a kiddie show from 1-1:30 in the daytime, when it was time for kids to take a nap, I would play children's music, I'd play 'Red-headed Stranger,' and I played Tex Ritter's 'Blood on the Saddle,' and all the different kid songs that I could come up with, and 'Red-headed Stranger' was one of the most popular songs that I played. I sang it to my kids every night. So several years later I had the opportunity to go on and do an album when I first signed with CBS. In our agreement, I could go in and do what I wanted to do any way I wanted to do it, and they would take it and put it down. So that's when I wrote the 'Red-headed Stranger' album, and I took that song and I wrote from the first song from the time of the preacher all the way up to the Red-headed stranger, and imagined what would have happened after that. I wrote the concept album, recorded it, and gave it to CBS. They thought I'd gone insane because there wasn't that much there. It was very sparse. But they put it out. I think Waylan shamed them into putting it out.

And that really changed it.

There were some good songs in there. 'Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain' was a big hit out of the album, and the album itself sold very well. A lot of young people liked it. They still like it. It was re-released last year.

How would you describe how you gained control of your own music? What were the steps that you went through to gain control of your own career?

Well, as I say, I had a clause in my contract which gave me artistic freedom. That was all I needed, I thought. That's really all anyone needs. If you think you can do it yourself, do it. That makes less for them to do, and they can just sell it. And if it doesn't sell, you're screwed.

So you assumed total responsibility for everything, right?

Yeah, I bet everything I had on this one album. It was the first album with CBS, and it had to be good or else the second one they don't normally get excited about.

Can you talk about Fourth of July?

I was living in Texas, picking a lot, and this was about some of the same time there had been a concert in Wichita where a lot of the young pickers were coming together and listening to all kinds of music - rock and roll, mostly, I suppose. But they were coming together. Big crowd, I forget how many thousands of people, and I thought it was a good idea. Someone did the same thing in Austin at a place in Dicken Springs, and it was the First Annual Dicken Springs Reunion in March. I was on the show with Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Roger Miller - a bunch of the traditional country people - Bill Anderson. And it wasn't promoted, so it didn't do that good, but I thought it was such a great idea, I felt like if we did the same thing further down in the year when the weather wasn't so cold, like the fourth of July, it would be worthwhile trying to do it. So I started calling up friends and seeing who all wanted to come and work for nothing. And I rustled Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Charlie Rich, and the Bees-in-Slaws, Asleep at the Wheel, and a whole lot of great talent was there. We showed up, and we played, and we had about fifty thousand people, so everybody got paid, and we decided it worked and we should do it again.

As you were doing that, another guy you liked a lot, Merle Haggard. He had some of the same heroes, Bob Wills, like that. What do you think he brought to country music?

Merle Haggard is one of my favorite artists and writers. He's been good ever since he started. His first records were good ones. People immediately liked Merle because they knew talent when they heard it. He was an original, and he still is. He's one of the few guys that are still out here beating the bushes up and down the highway. His writing is just as good as it gets, and his singing is…well, he's Haggard. Everybody loves him.

Was his 'Okie from Muskogee' sort of tongue in cheek, or did that reflect his politics at the time?

I don't know. I've sung it many times, sort of tongue-in-cheek. I'm not sure where he was mentally when he wrote it.

Farm Aid was also something that you established. Can you talk about that and what was involved?

Well, I remember talking to a lot of friends of mine that were farmers. And they were telling me that there was a big problem. And we traveled around the country a lot and talked to a lot of farmers in different parts of the country. But I asked some of my friends in Texas around Abbot and Hills Vern West where I came from if they were having any problems. They said, "Well, it's getting kind of tight, but they're really having problems in the midwest." A few weeks later I was playing in Springfield, Illinois, and the governor, Big Jim Thompson, a good friend of mine, was there. And we used to have a ritual where every year he'd come on the bus and have a bowl of chili and talk. And this particular time, I ask him about the farm situation, and he says, "Yeah, it's really bad." So I said, "What can we do about it? Can we do a Farm Aid, or something like that?" He said, "I don't know, we can try." So he got the venue in Champagne, Illinois, and we did the first one 21 days later.

And how many years has that been?

I forgot. It's fifteen or sixteen, I guess.

Raised a lot of money.

Not as much as we need. The problem is as bad if not worse than it was when we started, and we're still losing three to four hundred farmers every week with all the droughts and the floods and all the problems they have. Their prices are way down, and what they buy is way up. We need a new farm bill, the Freedom to Farm Bill that both the Democrats and the Republicans sign into is horrible. So both the Democrats and the Republicans have got to get together and come up with a farm bill, or else we're going to lose all our small family farmers, and when we do that, we lose the next rung on the ladder. Whenever five farmers go out in an area, one business in that town goes under, and the schools and the hospitals fall right along behind it. So all these people who get thrown off the land wind up in a big city somewhere becoming a part of the problem there. So we need to reverse that. We need to get them a farm bill that will get people back on the land. Yesterday, I think, or the day before, I played over in Harvard, and we played a show for a school for young farmers, and I thought that was one of the greatest ideas I had heard. A lot of the people there are bringing kids out of the city, putting them on the farm, letting them learn how to farm, and teaching them what it's like, teaching them where their food comes from. And that's what we need to see - more of that.

You know, we focus on some of the tejano musicians that I think you know and like. Little Joe Hernadez is one. Tell us about Little Joe and how you know him and what you think of his music.

Well, Little Joe and I are real good friends, and we've been playing music together for a long time. He's done Farm Aids, and we've recorded together. I've done a couple of songs in Spanish with him - hope to do some more. We were talking not too long ago about getting together, doing some more recording, and maybe going to Mexico and doing a couple of shows down there.

What about Flaco Jimenez? Is he somebody that you've worked with?

Oh yes.

Tell me about Flaco and his music.

Well, Flaco's a great accordion player. He and his brother both received the Texas Music Art Award. Several of us did, Tommy Lee Jones, a bunch of us. And both Flaco and his brother got the award. They both deserve it.

I know that you also are good friends with B.B. King and that he's influenced you.

I love the way he plays. And if you're going to play the blues, you need to listen to B.B. and start from there and do the best you can. As far as I'm concerned, he's the guy.

And he's the guy that's lived that Delta experience and brought it up and electrified it.

And stayed with it. He stayed with the blues. He hasn't tried to go into this direction or that direction because he didn't need to.

Another type of music that we're looking at that's been kind of negated in America is that of Native Americans. Native American music is starting to cross over. And it's the first music in America. Is there anything you can say to help people realize the importance and the beauty of that music?

Well, if you've heard it than it's not necessary to explain it. It's different music, and it's coming from a different part of life. The Native American rituals, I think, are an important part of life, and they've put a lot of this in their music, and there's great education there, if one would listen. Their music is not something that you go around whistling and humming all the time (unless you're an Indian, I guess you would), but I think a lot of those bands out there are capable of playing blues, they're capable of playing country. I mean, just because they're Indians doesn't mean they can't pick. So they can play their traditional stuff, and they can play all kinds of music.

In the explosion of American musics that occurred during the 20th Century, how important is radio and records? I mean, this music came out of different ethnic groups, different regions of the country, and it seems like it exploded all of a sudden and was being recorded for the first time and being broadcast. How important is the radio to American music of the 20th Century?

For one, it's important in trying to get people to hear you on radio. If you can get your music on the radio, which is harder to do these days. There's not a lot of radio stations playing traditional like they used to be. There are a few, and there seems to be more and more coming along. But radio used to be really important to me because I didn't get a lot of airplay. Still don't get a lot of airplay. But it was important to me whenever I'd work for Alice Ray to have some radio station in that town would play my records before I come to town so I would be ensured of having a pretty good crowd, maybe. So I would promote all these stations and try to find somebody in town that would play. So radio was very important.

When you were growing up, what were some of the first things that you remember over the radio or on records very early on?

The Grand Ole Opry. I used to listen to WSM every Saturday night. That was Roy Acuff, it was Minnie Pearl...

If you were to summarize your music and what you've done so beautifully and so consistently for quite a while now, what do you think that you brought into the mix that was different that you feel is distinctly yours?

Well, I don't really know about that. I know that I like to have freedom to play. I'm not locked into a lot of arrangement and things. Our band jams a lot. It's fun, what we do, and I think people can see that we're having fun, and that, I think, is infectious. You like to see a band that's having fun.

If you were to summarize the main influences on your music...

I don't know. I listened to everybody, so I've got to give everybody a little credit.

But what about those early influences. I hear a lot of different ethnic groups in your music.

Well, somewhere in there is a little gypsy music, a little Spanish, a little country, and a little blues. I think it's a lot of different things.

Why do you feel that there's such an explosion of American music in the 20th Century? At the beginning, almost no one really thought America had a musical tradition, it was such a young country, it comes from Europe, it comes from Africa. And we get all these things: gospel, Cajun, jazz, blues, country, tejano, just comes out. And it's not the music that came over from Europe, it's something that's unique in America. Why does that happen in such a short time?

Well, I don't know, but I think every country has it's uniqueness, its own musical heritage. But it was a while before they discovered that we had one over here. And maybe it's because it took it a while to develop. Maybe Jimmie Rodgers and Ray Charles and Hank Williams and Bob Wills had to sort of melt together into something.

What do you think the earliest strands of American music were?

Well, I don't really know. The first music I remember hearing was on the radio like The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, and I'm sure before radio there were singers that I don't know.

Out of the songs that other people have done of your own material, which one is probably the one that opened up your career the most? Would it be 'Crazy' or 'Hello Walls?'

Well, definitely, 'Crazy' would have to be in there somewhere.

Can you sing a little for us?

Sure. [singing] "Crazy. Crazy for feeling so lonely. Crazy. Crazy for feeling so blue. You'd love me as long as you wanted. And then someday you'd leave me for somebody new. Worry. Why do I let myself worry? Wondering what in the world did I do? Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you. Crazy for trying, crazy for crying, and I'm crazy for loving you."

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