Willie Nelsonhas some pretty wild stories to his name from his younger years out on the road, many of which are almost too unbelievable to make up.
From his (alleged) 9-hour sex marathon, to the true story of how he got his nickname “Shotgun Willie,” to the time his ex-wife tied him up and beat him with a broom, he’s lived a true outlaw life that you usually only read about in books.
And of course Willie, along with his friend Waylon Jennings, were pioneers of the outlaw country movement in the 1970s.
But in a 1988 interview with SPIN, Waylon admitted that the outlaw movement they were so influential in was more about marketing than anything else:
“You know what, let’s get all that up front, the way it really was. That was to merchandise and sell records. I remember when they were gonna call that album ‘The Outlaws,’ and I had been called that before because I had an album out called ‘Ladies Love Outlaws.’
But I tell you, I argued against that because there was a group called the Outlaws. A great group, and we probably sold some records on the strength of people thinkin’ it was that group, because it says ‘Wanted: The Outlaws.’
I argued with them about it until we were about an inch away from them changing their minds, but it did work out pretty good.”
While I think there’s quite a few stories about him that suggest otherwise (like the time he rode Buddy Holly’s motorcycle around in his hotel room, and once a ton of cocaine down the toilet during a DEA raid at the studio), he insists there honestly wasn’t much else to it.
Of course, he always had such a unique way of putting things, and used his good friend Willie Nelson as an example of the reality of what their lives really were in the music industry:
“No. No big story behind it.
About the closest thing that Willie ever did to bein’ an outlaw is that he probably came to town and double-parked on Music Row.”
Hysterical… what I would give to have one beer with Waylon and just shoot the shit about life.
And when the interviewer told Waylon he actually had a “Willie for President” bumper sticker on his car, Waylon told him that’s the last person he should be voting for:
“You do? Well burn that thing. If there’s anything you don’t want, Hoss, is Willie Nelson to be president.
I mean, you don’t even want him to be Secretary of… you don’t even want him to be dogcatcher.”
They just don’t make ’em like Waylon these days.
And during a performance of “Good Hearted Woman,” his 1971 #1 hit with Willie, Waylon sarcastically opened by saying the same thing about how they fought the system by double-parking on Music Row:
“Well, I think it means fight the system, you know? Me and Willie used to come to town and double-park on Music Row.”
I mean, parking tickets can be a real bitch, especially in a city with limited parking like Nashville, so more power to ’em…
Clearly though, they did a whole lot more than that, and their authentic music has stood the test of time and reached across generations of music fans. It’s crazy how just telling the truth is the most rebellious thing you can even still do in Nashville.
In all seriousness, I could watch this all damn day:
Johnny Cash’s Iconic New Year’s Eve Resolution List
Johnny Cash often acknowledged the fact that there was both “good and evil” inside of him, as there is good and bad with pretty much every human being on this planet.
Hell, that kind of self-awareness led him to becoming one of the most legendary singers/songwriters/performers on this planet.
With that being said, Cash tried to keep his actions to a minimum as much as possible. And how did he keep himself in-check, you may ask?
His iconic to-do list.
According to the Johnny Cash museum, the list was written as a New Year’s Resolution in the ’70s.
Just a few little reminders to make life easier, better, more fulfilling, and to keep his focus on the things that matter, and quite literally… keep himself alive. Something tells me we could all use a little reminder like this every day.
And as you’d expect, it’s about as straightforward and simplified as possible:
1. Not smoke
2. Kiss June
3. Not kiss anyone else
7. Not eat too much
9. Go see Mama
10. Practice piano
Yeah, I’d say a number of those points are, ya know, vital for living. I’ll admit, two and three are my favorite by far, with “Not kiss anyone else” topping the list. I mean hey, a few drinks in sometimes you need a reminder…
And fun fact, the undated to-do list from The Man in Black sold for $6,400 at an auction… not bad for a piece of Johnny Cash history.
Johnny Cash’s Handwritten Love Letter To June Carter Cash
Johnny and June… the ultimate country music power couple.
In 1968, many years after they first met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter during the middle of a show in London, Ontario, right there on the stage. June urged him to keep singing, but Johnny wasn’t gonna continue the how until he got an answer.
She said yes and the couple married on March 1, 1968, in Franklin, Kentucky.
Through thick and thin, including Johnny’s well-documented drug issues, they were married until June’s death in 2003. In fact, Johnny dedicated his final live performance to her, and passed away as well shortly after.
But back in 1994, Johnny Cash wrote what was voted to be the greatest love letter of all time to his wife June Carter.
It read as follows:
“Happy Birthday Princess,
We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others [sic] minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.
But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.
Happy Birthday Princess.
Fellas…. if you’re not paying attention, you better start.
Take a page out of the Johnny Cash playbook and write your lady a letter… you can’t go wrong.