When Willie Nelson and his youngest son, Micah (aka: Particle Kid) play their new single, “Die When I’m High (Halfway to Heaven),” Willie likes to step aside and let Micah introduce it.
As Micah said during their Farm Aid performance back in 2021:
“Last year when we were all sitting around, I think we were playing chess or something, out of nowhere he looks over and he said ‘If I die when I’m high I’ll be halfway to heaven.’
I said, ‘You better write that song.’ And he said, ‘Why don’t you write it?’”
Country music legend Willie Nelson hit Micah with the “do it yourself, son.”
And as a fellow dad, I felt that.
“Daddy, I dropped my fork on the ground!”
“Pick it up yourself, son.”
“Daddy, I’m thirsty! Where’s my water?”
“Go to the fridge and pour yourself some water, son.”
“Daddy, will you carry me? I’m tired.”
“Are your legs broken? Didn’t think so. Suck it up and walk son.”
“[Daddy] you better write that song”
“Why don’t you write it?”
According to Today’s Parent, doing too many things for your kids that are within their capabilities can lead to something called “learned helplessness.” By providing too much help, parents can inadvertently limit their kids’ confidence and independence while simultaneously sentencing themselves to a lifetime of water-fetching, crust-of-the-bread removing, butt-wiping servitude.
As a father of eight, Willie gets it. And perhaps that approach helped lead many of those kids, like Micah, toward building successful music careers of their own.
Without first-hand knowledge, it’s tough to say what kind of dad Willie Nelson actually was and is as a prolific, touring musician, pot-smoking ambassador, and alleged sex machine. But what we do know is that he has often recorded and performed with many of his kids, and those that remained in the public eye tend to speak of him with admiration.
For instance, Micah’s older brother, Lukas, recently shared on the Whiskey Riff Raff podcast how he felt about his legendary dad:
“I really wanna keep his music alive forever, and so I do it out of reverence, out of respect, for the inspiration that he gave me and the support that he gave me in terms of just being… telling me to go for it.
And not really ever saying anything that would hold me back. And so that… I owe everything to him.”
With eight kids from four mothers, four marriages, and a few lifetimes worth of extraordinary stories behind him, Willie certainly has experience, if nothing else.
And I will always appreciate a dad whose enduring message to his kids is to trust yourself, choose your path, and “go for it,” knowing dad’s got your back.
So, take it from Willie, kids: make your own lunch, kill your own spiders, wipe your own butts and (if you’ve got the knack for it), “write your own songs.”