Lukas Nelson On How His Dad, Willie Nelson, Has Managed To Stay So Grounded Throughout His Legendary Career: “He’s A Normal Person”

Willie Lukas Nelson country music
Getty Images for The Recording

The one and only Willie Nelson turns 90 years old on Saturday.

And of course, we all know and love him as a country icon and legendary singer-songwriter, but he’s also a father of seven, and his son Lukas Nelson recently sat down with John Spong on Texas Monthly’s One by Willie podcast for a special birthday episode in honor of his father.

Possibly the most interesting part of the interview came when John asked Lukas how Willie has managed to seemingly stay so grounded after decades at the forefront of country music and pop culture, which Lukas says is due in large part to the fact that “he’s a normal person.”

And while I kind of beg to differ there, his point is very well-taken, and I think Willie’s authenticity is obviously a massive part of his longevity and success.

Lukas added that his dad also has “his issues and his demons,” which he has the incredible talent and ability to put into song in a way that no one else ever has, or really, ever will again, in my opinion:

“Well, first of all, I think he’s a normal person. I think he’s got his ups and downs and he’s got his issues and his demons and all those things.

I think that the difference between him and someone is he doesn’t stand on pretense, maybe. Someone else would sort of pretend like they don’t have those issues or sort of act like they’re larger than life. And I don’t think that he’s ever tried to do that.

That acceptance of who you are really opens the door towards presence, because if you’re so worried about appearances, you’re going to be spending all your time worried about that and none of your time on what’s going on right now, or trying to be happy and all those things.

I just think he spends his time well. He doesn’t think about those things.”

It really is incredible to think of the levels of fame and success he’s achieved, yet managed to come across so humble, grateful and relatable for so long.

That’s not something that’s easy to do, by any stretch of the imagination.

And speaking of Willie’s songwriting, Lukas added that the intrinsic value that makes it so special is that there’s a certain authority to it, and it’s timeless in a way that not many other catalogs are because of that:

“He was very timeless in his way of writing. I mean, that type of writing is… There’s an authority to it. There’s a sense of it coming from… It sounds more like an ancient text than it does a song.

‘Your heart has been forewarned, all men will lie to you. Your mind cannot conceive.’ It sounds like if she came stumbling into a cave, she could read it chiseled in the walls, from thousands of years ago.

Really, all those lines could fit. That song could be sung in ancient Greek times as well as it could be sung to in today’s world. That type of imagery is, I think, on par with Homer.”

I couldn’t agree more, and while it sounds like Willie remains the ever-humble Texan he’s been since he started out in the 60’s, there’s a reason he’s moved into the “living legend” category of sorts that very few ever have.

I mean really, the only other person I can think of who is as universally beloved as Willie is his friend and fellow country icon, Mrs. Dolly Parton.

Not bad company to be in, to say the least…

And when asked if Lukas has a birthday wish he had for his dad that he could share with everyone, it’s simply this:

“Here’s to ten more.”

Amen to that…

Lukas and John also discussed Willie and Lukas’ duet cover of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe,” which is one of my all-time favorite songs, so I’ll leave you with that and echo Lukas’ sentiment with this…

Here’s to 10 more years, at minimum, for the inimitable Willie Nelson:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock