Ramblings & ephemera

Willie Nelson in New York

From Adam Gopnik’s "The In-Law", a profile of Willie Nelson in The New Yorker (7 October 2002):

"I love Michael J. Fox," one says. "I was upset when he left the show because of that sad illness of his." (Willie’s family really talks that way: Willie,  on being asked about Kris Kristofferson’s remark that he is the greatest songwriter since Stephen Foster, says to a radio interviewer, "I think Kris was offering something a shade too strong with that proposition you quoted.") …

[Two of Willie’s roadies, talking:] "Well, they say he’s got perfect pitch." "Yeah, well, you know what they say about perfect pitch. It’s when you throw a banjo into a trash can and hit an accordion." …

"I don’t get drunk as much anymore because I don’t have as much to get drunk about," [Willie] admits. …

[Willie Nelson] is no longer the outlaw of American music. He is its in-law, peering jovially over everyone’s shoulder at the wedding and saying, "Welcome. I can sing you, too." Nonetheless, he preserves his place as a radical, and outsider Like all great intuitive American performers (Ronald Reagan and Bruce Springsteen, for instance), he gestures toward the edge while occupying the center, thereby’ pleasing the fringe and reassuring the middle. (Less shrewd performers, like Bill Clinton and Garth Brooks, gesture toward the middle and then occupy it, earning the numbed assent of the center and the rage of the edges.) Willie’s voice pulls the edge and the center taut.

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