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Hero Willie NelsonThere’s a home place under fire tonight in the Heartland, and the bankers are taking my home and my land from me. There’s a big achin’ hole in my chest now where my heart was, and a hole in the sky where God used to be.

There’s a home place under fire tonight in the Heartland – there’s a well with water so bitter nobody can drink. Ain’t no way to get high and my mouth is so dry that I can’t speak. Don’t they know that I’m dyin’, why is nobody cryin’ for me?

My American dream fell apart at the seams. You tell me what it means, you tell me what it means.

There’s a young boy closin’ his eyes tonight in the Heartland, who will wake up a man with a home and a loan he can’t pay.

His American dream fell apart at the seams. You tell me what it means, you tell me what it means.

Heartland album coverThese powerful words were written in 1992 by two of America’s greatest poets and prophets—Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson—and the song Heartland is on one of Willie’s finest albums, Across the Borderline. As it turns out, these lyrics are timeless. Banks, mortgage companies, soulless lobbyists and unscrupulous politicians are apathetic about the profound effects of their greed on the regular folks. The old oil money guys are stealing land again from the indigenous peoples, Mother Nature is routinely assaulted with no regard to all our futures, and friends and families are so torn apart and suspicious that they can’t drink from the same well. Or the same water fountain.

There are no heroes anymore. Our elected officials and the rich jerks behind them are petulant, power crazy and an embarrassment. Our sports figures act like thugs, or worse, drunken frat boys scrambling for endorsements and fame while hiding in limos. Journalists with good intentions are ridiculed and thwarted by their corporate owners and the TV talking heads. Musicians grow tired and cynical and play for the money instead of the music. They’ve got booze or whatever they may want backstage, and plenty of folks to kiss their asses, but have forgotten how to connect with their audience. Kids want to have their own insipid reality show instead of actually doing something that deserves notice or learning how to make a living. They watch clips of musical events on their phones instead of actually being a part of it—in the moment and at the same place when it is created. There are no heroes anymore. Except for Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson is more than just a ‘star’ or a celebrity or a singer who has captured the hearts of Americans with his lifetime of musical contributions—he is an authentic folk hero of our times. His life is more than a rags to riches story of a Texas good ‘ole boy, it is a story of hardship, courage, love and friendship. Willie spent his early years on a small farm near the town of Abbott, Texas, where he and his sister Bobby were raised by their grandparents after their way too young parents split up and went their separate ways. He milked cows, he picked cotton while barefoot in the brutal Texas heat and sold encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners door to door. He washed dishes, bartended, trimmed trees and played in a million honky-tonks. He and his sister learned music any way they could, playing in church, at local radio stations and town events. Willie wrote his first poem at age 6, got a cheap mail order guitar and started writing songs, and played his first real gig with a polka band at age 10. As a fledgling songwriter he sold the rights to such classics as Family Bible and Crazy for 50 bucks to buy milk for his first baby with his then teenage wife. But Willie never lost touch with his roots—to this day he financially supports the local church and grocery store, which he bought in 2006 so the owners and the town of Abbott wouldn’t lose it to the bankers.

In 1985 Willie helped organize and recruit other musicians to play at the first Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois. John Mellencamp and Neil Young got on board with the project, inspired by comments made by Bob Dylan at the Live Aid concert earlier that year. At their own expense, Nelson and Mellencamp brought farmers before Washington legislators to testify about the state of family farming in America, and Congress subsequently passed the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987. They established emergency hot lines for farmers and a farm disaster fund to help them through natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes and drought. They have raised millions of dollars, which is used to pay farmers expenses and provide food, legal and financial help, and psychological guidance. Willie has made a profound difference in the lives of the people whose hard work benefits us all—in 2011 he was inducted into the National Agriculture Hall of Fame. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, his favorite munchie, came up with Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler and a portion of all its sales goes to Farm Aid.

Willie has also done extensive work on behalf of the environment, promoting the alternative cleaner-burning fuel biodiesel. In 2007 he started marketing his own brand of green fuel, BioWillie, a combo of diesel and biodiesel made from soybeans. Nowadays Willie lives in a completely solar powered community in Hawaii—he doesn’t just talk about doing righteous things—he actually does them.

BioWillie deisel

There are a bunch of animal welfare groups that he is involved in—from local small shelters to political action organizations to help endangered species. He is involved with a campaign to save wild horses from slaughter (there are government efforts right now to kill 20,000 of them in Montana and Wyoming), and he personally has adopted and provides for 50 rescue horses.

Marijuana won't kill youThen there’s his well-known advocacy and usage of pot. Willie believes that pot should be recognized for what it is, as a medicine, an herb that grows in the ground. Willie says that “God put it here and He wants it to grow—what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?” We all knew that as soon as the government figured out how to make money off of pot it would become legal, a process that is happening now all over. Let’s not kid ourselves, they’re not getting on the pot band wagon because it helps folks with dire medical problems, but because they can get revenue from it. Willie has been busted several times for small amounts of pot, but cheerfully went through the court process and fines and BS, then lit one up on the way home. He lends his voice to organizations fighting for legalization of the herb, and even has a line of his own hand-picked home-grown for sale. There’re many stories about Willie and pot, but my favorite is perhaps when he went to the Bahamas on a fishing trip and they found a very small amount he’d forgotten about in his luggage and threw him in jail. After paying some exorbitant fine, he was released and did a little dance on the steps as he was leaving, and fell and broke his leg. Four days later he was invited by the Carters (who he admired greatly for their country goodness and honesty) to the White House, where he and his cast ended up on the roof blowing a joint. There’s a recent hilarious TV skit of him on his bus when Jimmy Fallon gets on and has a one-sided conversation with a silent Willie. As Fallon is leaving Willie finally lets go of the smoke he’d been holding in and engulfs Fallon in it. It’s pretty funny. What is not so funny is that in the 90s Willie got slapped with an IRS bill of 16 million dollars, and they seized most of his property. In true Willie fashion, he put out a new album to raise money to pay them, and called it The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? I personally believe they targeted him because of his annoying stance on marijuana—I mean they treat mobsters and mafia crooks better than that. And those state patrol guys and the dumbass cops who busted him should have been fired. And someone should give him a medal for just being Willie Nelson.

Come on out some Friday night and catch Ben Jammin’ and the Howlers playing at the beautiful and spacious Roca Verde Restaurant, just south of Dominical. There’s usually acoustic type music on Saturday afternoons at Dos Locos, and there are some new venues in Ojochol and Uvita that are hiring live music, so search them out and support the guys that support us!

My doctor told me I should start slowing down—but there are more old drunks than there are old doctors, so let’s all have another round.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

God has blessed you richly, so get down on your knees and thank him. Don’t forget the less fortunate or God will personally kick your ass. I’d do it for him but I can’t be everywhere.

I’ve been a long time leaving but I’m going to be a long time gone. Willie Nelson

One Response to “HERO”

  1. Diana said:

    Point on my friend!!!