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Happy 80th Birthday, Willie Nelson!

Willie Nelson
Photo by Jerod Harris, Getty Images for H&M

The “Red-Headed Stranger” is enjoying his 80th birthday today. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the idea that Willie Nelson is 80 years old. Willie Nelson is quite the character, and an enormous talent!

I wonder what Willie is doing to celebrate today? I bet it involves a party, drinkin’, playin’ music, pretty women and possibly a little smoke!

Nobody can refute the fact that Willie is an American icon. After all, Willie was the first and only person to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Country Music Association. He’s also got that Kennedy Center Honor under his belt, along being a member of  the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Willie has had a street named for him in Austin, to keep going.

Then of course, there’s that smooth baritone voice, that has the ability to be hauntingly melancholy, upbeat and quirky, and just plain awesome. It’s funny to think that Nashville once referred to Willie’s delivery as “different and unusual,” with the way he turns a phrase, or skips around the beat. (Of course Nashville came to their senses.)

Then there’s that  guitar, a well worn, and loved, Martin N-20 acoustic guitar that Willie affectionately calls “Trigger.” The way he plays that guitar is like he’s caressing a woman.

Oh, I was remiss a moment ago when I was listing some of Willie’s awards and achievements — he was inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame, for his effort with Farm Aid. Willie was co-creator with the annual music festival that has raised more than $43 million to help farm families. He also was responsible for starting BioWillie, which makes fuel from soy and vegetable oils. He also raised money for victims of the explosion in West, Texas.

OK, Willie Nelson isn’t perfect — he’s been arrested for marijuana on more than one occasion. He had a little tax problem with the IRS, but he made the best of it by releasing an  “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?” to pay his multimillion-dollar debts. But would we really want Willie to be perfect? Of course not, we like Willie being Willie.

Happy Birthday Willie, and here’s to many more!

My favorite Willie song of all time is “You Were Always On My Mind,” which makes me cry every time I hear it.

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