Willie Nelson Turns 81 Today, Or Maybe Tomorrow, But Get Your Celebration On Anyway
Today is Willie Nelson’s birthday (maybe! Like George Harrison, nobody really knows what day it is) and he’s 81 years old and he still tours and loves weed and we hope he never dies. He’s celebrating today’s birthday by doing something you could probably not do at half his age: getting his fifth-degree black belt in martial arts.
The country music icon who turns 81 this week received his fifth-degree black belt in the martial art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul on Monday night, parking his tour bus outside the Austin studio of his instructor who began teaching him two decades ago. […]
Nelson cinched his black belt — personalized with his name — around a black robe and wore his signature braids behind his head.
We’re pretty sad that there are no pictures of Willie Nelson kicking ass.
Earlier in the week, he was inducted into Austin City Limits’ Hall of Fame, as he was the first performer on the show way back 40 years ago, and at the induction he performed a concert because he is an unstoppable goddamn machine.
Sorry but we are going to come at you with the biggest blockquote ever about this induction concert, because damn.
Backed by Lyle Lovett’s band and his stalwart harmonica player Mickey Raphael, the 81-year-old Texas legend opened his set with his perennial vanguard “Whiskey River,” […] Willie moved directly into “Still is Still Moving to Me,” the closest thing he has to a rock anthem. “Here’s a new gospel song I just wrote,” Willie noted wryly before he launched into “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” his latest hit.
Willie then introduced the leader of the band he was borrowing, as Lyle Lovett came onstage for a duet on Willie’s country/soul crossover hit “Funny How Time Slips Away.” […] Next up was Willie’s friend Emmylou Harris, who essayed an emotion-filled take on Willie’s “Crazy,” originally made a standard by Patsy Cline. Willie completed his trilogy of antique classics by retaking the mic for an especially jazzy blues version of the Ray Price-popularized “Night Life.”
Lovett and Emmylou returned for a round-robin version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty,” […] With that, Willie graciously turned the stage over to his guests […] Willie then took center stage once again, spiking the energy level with spirited takes on his traditional set closers “On the Road Again” and Hank Williams’ gospel fireball “I Saw the Light,” with the legend exhorting the crowd to sing along.
Again, video of this event would be the best thing ever and hopefully this shows up on Austin City Limits soon.
Since we can’t have that, we’ll just watch Emmylou and Willie singing “Pancho and Lefty” from a 2000 performance.
You can also watch this entire concert of Willie with Wynton Marsalis from 2008 because the internet is a magical place.
Or you could celebrate his birthday by just getting high. That works too.