Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fighting those ol' winter time blues - with the help of Willie

I am SO weary of winter.

Here’s the thing. I love snow. I love looking out the window and seeing everything covered with the pristine clear magic of snow. And if that was all I had to do every time it snows, I would be a happy girl. Just look at it through the window. Join Donald with taking little walkies with Harley and watch him romp through snow drifts with a big ol’ doggie grin on his face (Harley, NOT Donald - although Donald does like to romp). Watch him lift his face to the sky and blink as he catches snow flakes on his tongue. And laugh at him when he buries his head in it searching, I guess, for some kind of furry critter scent. Who knows what’s going through his mind? But he’s cute and he fills my heart with joy.

Harley does love the snow.

Those are some of the fun things.

As is watching out the window while Donald and Harley take off down the driveway in the snow. Taking off on a great dog & dad adventure. While I sit comfy warm with a book and some music, along with a cup of hot chocolate. With marshmallows.

Fun things.

But. Instead of being able to enjoy all the childlike fun things that come with winter in the mountains is the fact that, being grown-ups, we have to get-up, get dressed in winter gear and get to work. Some of the fun wears off all this fairly quickly.

So we plan and do things we love so as not to get those ol’ winter time blues.

Like go to concerts.

What can pull you out of a funk quicker than just about anything? Music!

And live music is the stuff that makes the world shine.

And if you’re lucky enough to have one of your all time favorite hero performers come to town, you just toss your head back, look at the skies and shout out a very loud, and very proud “Thank You, Lord!”

I adore Willie Nelson.

I’ve been going to Willie Nelson concerts for a long time. My first one was, I think, in 1972. Willie performed at the Georgia Tech Coliseum and sitting on stage with him was then Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, along with his wife Rosalynn. I was immediately converted from a person who liked Willie Nelson, to a life-long fan. And have since then, been to an additional 8 or 9 Willie Nelson concerts. As long as Willie is still performing, and I'm still mobile, I'll continue going to as many as I can get to.

This is a man with that indescribable something that puts a very few, very special people in a category that is impossible to fully explain. We mortals call it charisma. It’s some little spark and sizzle that bathes some people in a special light that most of us don’t have, but recognize as soon as we encounter it. It’s magic, pure and simple.

I have followed the magic of Willie for years and when we heard he would be performing in Boone I may have been the first one here to buy tickets.

The memories and stories of past experiences at Willie Nelson concerts aren’t ones I’m likely to share here. Suffice to say - I was younger then. Attending a Willie Nelson concert is an experience that includes loads more than merely watching a man perform on stage. It’s an adoring audience with faces upturned to a man they love. Truly love. He’s like the Pied Piper, and many’s the old hippie, or old farmer, who’s followed him across the country and back. When it comes to Willie Nelson, folks seem able to put background and politics aside in respect and admiration for a man who will stand by his ideals. Who will put himself on the line to fight for what he believes in - be it his music, or other men’s farms, or wild horses, or our country’s dependence on gasoline.

I attended one of Willie’s 4th of July picnics in 1983 in Hampton, GA. After treking to Hampton from Atlanta with about 20 other people, and spending the night in a hotel room I would not consider sleeping in today, we got up around 4 a.m. to be at the Atlanta International Speedway gates to stake our spot. Loaded down with blankets and coolers, we slowly moved with a few thousand other folks as close to the stage as we could get. Now, I don’t remember who all we saw that day - but I remember the show included David Allen Coe, The Stray Cats, Linda Ronstadt and a whole BUNCH of other people. A whole mixed bag of performers crossing genres and performing from 10 a.m. until Willie closed the show at 3 a.m. the following morning. I still have my T-shirt. One very similar to it recently sold on ebay for $36.00. Thirty-six Dollars! Man - I wouldn’t take a million bucks for that t-shirt! For real. As a matter of fact, I proudly wore it to the concert we went to last week. And I just know if Willie had noticed that shirt, it would have made him right proud.

This concert was different. Willie joined Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel to perform, in addition to some of his own stuff, some old Western Swing. People were still the same adoring fans. But we were all much more - in a word - sedate. Our faces were still upturned to this man we love, but we were gazing into the face of an older, wiser man. Our Willie has grown gracefully into the role of Shaman.

Willie Nelson turned 75 last year.

When I saw him last week, I saw all those 75 years in his face. It’s a face I love. I see wisdom, strength, humor, character, compassion and peace in that face. All the things you hear in his music. He’s a national treasure. And oh my. I enjoyed this show every bit as much as any I’ve been to. I yee-hawed through “Whiskey River” and “On the Road Again,” chuckled during his duet with Elizabeth McQueen singing “I’m Sitting on Top of the World,” and just boo hooed during “Always on my Mind.” And seeing Mickey Rafael up on stage next to Willie, still looking like a kid, still looking at Willie like a star struck kid - even after playing by his side for over 30 years, made me cry.

So it may still be the dead of winter. It may still be cold, with more snow yet to be had, but I have crazy, wild, fun, sweet and lovely Willie Nelson memories - old and new - and a whole big stack of his CD’s to help keep me warm. A husband who will sing Willie's songs to me, and a puppy who will bark along. Right on key. For real.


Anonymous said...

I loooooove "Always On My Mind." Great post, Kaye, brought up a ton of music memories. You are a gifted writer, and I thank you for sharing as you do. Also, your Harley looks like a red fox in that snow photo!

Since you were nice enough to ask earlier, an update on my own writing: I'm three-quarters done with my new manuscript. It's due to the publisher at end of April, and in bookstores in January 2010. While there's no country music, there IS a doggie and a deer. Perhaps you will like it.

Carol Murdock said...

What an enjoyable read! Looks like you have shucking the ole blues down pat!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shane, Hi Kayester. Hey, Shane, didn't I tell you Kaye was a closet writer? Now I know what her plan is. She's going to use this blog for a year or so, just to get warmed up. Then's she's going to go for the gold and burst onto the scene with her first novel. Willie Nelson is being hounded again by the IRS for back taxes, and takes refuge deep in the North Carolina mountains. Where he runs into a woman with a Tinkerbell haircut and wearing a raggedy ass old Willie Nelson tee-shirt, walking down a snow covered country road with her barking Corgi and her husband, who's whistling...badly off tune..."Stardust Melody." Don't worry, the book really takes off once Willie recognizes the woman and says, "Aren't you that fan who's been stalking me for thirty years at my concerts...and wearing that same shirt?" Then, of course, the woman with the Tinkerbell haircut immediately breaks into tears. I LOVE Willie Nelson! My favorite is "Blue Skies," hehe.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post! I'm a Willie Nelson fan, too, but you really got my attention with your mention of the Stray Cats.

Lee Rocker rocks! I have a Carl Perkins rockabilly DVD, with Ringo, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Roseanne Cash and a young Lee Rocker featured. Rocker looks like someone dumped a bowl of hair on top of his head. He's wearing some jazzy striped shoes and climbing all over his big bass fiddle.

No Willie Nelson album. But I have Willie on Jerry Lee Lewis's "Last Man Standing" DVD.

Music -- the joy of life!

Pat Browning

Jonathan E. Quist said...

I used to drive between Chicago and Tampa twice a year on business. At the time, I didn't own a tape player, so I'd fiddle with the radio for as long as it took to find a station playing "On the Road Again". When I found it, my trip had officially begun.

I've never seen Willie Nelson live, but now I feel like I've shared the experience.

Thanks, Kaye!

Anonymous said...

A Willie Nelson fan! You never cease to amaze me. Have you seen the movie Honeysuckle Rose? I've always thought that 1980 movie was a realistic portrait of Willie, a man driven by his own demons, but with a heart of gold, and more musical talent than any one man should possesses.
I don't want to believe he is 75. That makes me realize how long I've been listening to him and how old that makes me.
Bo Parker

Earl Staggs said...

Loved it to pieces, Kaye Darlin', as always. I feel the same as you about snow -- beautiful when it's coming down and watching it through the window with hot chocolate in hand. It sure turns ugly, tho, when you have to put on a ton of clothes, shovel out your car and drive to work. And that's why I'm living in the south.

When we put together your memoirs (and we will!) you'll have to include more details about your escapades at Willie concerts. And I mean tell ALL. As Ken would say, it's gonna be hot! HehHehHeh.

Pat R. said...


Have you read "Big Man Coming Down The Road" by Brad Smith? Below is a paragraph from my review. I thought of Willie all the time I was reading.

Pat R.

"Kick is only interested in making documentary films but since she is broke she is determined to make a go of the company she was been given. The big hang-up with that is that her father has made an agreement with a fading county western singer who is in debt up to his cowboy hat in delinquent income taxes. The agreement states that Jonah Peck, the singer, must make this record. Kick takes off for Nashville to make it happen and that isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do."

Pat R.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hooray Hooray! A new Emily by my friend Mr. Gericke. Like it? Are you kidding, Shane - I know I'll love it every bit as much as I did the first two!!

Carol, hi! I have just this minute been visiting your blog - how 'bout that? What a WONDERFUL story! I am a real pushover for stories, you know. and that was terrific. thank you. Y'all? you all love stories as much as I do. This one is "southern" to the core - check it out:
Carol, the other thing I've done to help shuck the blues is booked us a little house on the beach for a week in May at Topsail Island. Just thinking about it and pulling the picture up on my computer will help with the blues, don't you think?

Kenneth. You have made me hoot. (Imagine that). This is priceless. When you get ready to move from writing thrillers, I seriously think you should write a comedy. You are a master storyteller!! for real.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Pat, hey!! Girl - you and I agree on so much, and music is right at the top of the list, it seems. It is indeed, the joy of life. I need to find this Carl Perkins DVD you're talking about!!!!

Jonathan, I thought about you actually while we were at this concert. Asleep at the Wheel's singer Elizabeth McQueen is someone your daughter (and you!) would enjoy, I think!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Bo - hey there! And you're a Willie fan?! Hooray! I should have known - we have the same taste in our reading, why not in our music?! I have seen Honeysuckle Rose! Isn't that a great movie?! and now I'm in the mood to watch it all over again. Ironically enough, Donald ran across Willie Nelson on the Biography channel last night and we watched it. It was the first time I've heard it said that the movie was indeed loosely based on Willie's life.

Let's not dwell on the fact that he's 75. Shoot, Bo - let's not even think about about it!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Earl Darlin' Staggs! Hey there! I don't think I'll ever in my life see snow that I won't think about you and how much you just love it. HA! Seriously. I know I'll never ever write a little story that I don't say a little thank you to you for awakening this little something in my heart, my friend. Thank you.
and here's a hug!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Pat! No! I've not read this book! Have never even heard of it till this minute. It's going on my "to be found" list right this second. Jonah Peck does indeed sound like our Willie, doesn't he?!
Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

These "meanderings and muses" are helping to chase my winter blues away..thank you

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Well, Patricia - you have made my day. Thank YOU!

Anonymous said...


The Carl Perkins DVD is "Carl Perkins and Friends - Blue Suede Shoes - A Rockabilly Session" and it is priceless.

Carl's friends were (are) majors stars and it took 18 months to juggle schedules and get everyone to the studio in London at the same time. Eric Clapton left Japan and went straight from the airport to the studio. He looks a little jetlagged.

This was in 1985. The recording played on national TV in Britain in 1985 and in the U.S. in 1986.

Long time ago, but what a jam session!

Well, my, my -- I do get carried away. (-:

Pat Browning

Jen Forbus said...

Kaye, I have to tell you...if you haven't already seen him and you get the should really see Aaron Tippin. He doesn't have quite the resume that Willie does, but I think you'll find a lot of the same qualities in his music. And I assure you, he will tickle your funny bone! :)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post, Kaye! Your dog is adorable--and I love that he enjoys to snow. Unfortunately, we've had more cold and ice up north than snow these past couple of months--and I'm sick of winter, too. But music is wonderful for chasing the blues away. My winter antidote today was the Cowboy Junkies, The Buena Vista Social Club, and Norah Jones.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I love this! A group who loves music!

Pat - I'm going to see if I can find and order this DVD this weekend. I know we've chatted about it before and it sounds better each time we talk about it. I don't remember you mentioning Eric Clapton being part of it. Another one of my music heroes!!!!!!

Jen - I'm not too familiar with Aaron Tippin. I know I've seen him on some award shows, but now I'm going to have to listen to him some more. Sounds like a rainy morning of "music research" on the web to me. pity. :> Over on Facebook, you mentioned seeing Harry Connick, Jr. in concert, and having terrific, up close seats. I would die. He is WONDERFUL!

Hi Meredith! I'm so glad you dropped by. Norah Jones. What a tremendous talent, huh? I could listen to her music forever without getting tired of it. But you know who I've never heard of? Cowboy Junkies!! On my list for music research they go! Finding new music is just as much fun as finding new books.

Happy Saturday, all. Raining and foggy day in Boone. Perfect day for computer playtime - ooops, I meant research, of course.