Discussion: Country Tales

After enjoying Patrick Nichols’ great article on the 9513 about Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel and Willie Nelson, I recalled a cute story I read years ago….

Back in 2000, when the Dixie Chicks decided to ask Willie Nelson to play a few shows on their first headlining tour, they went for the personal touch. Although they knew they could contact him through his agent, they really wanted to call him personally. So, one day when Emily Robison ran into Ray Benson, a friend of the band, in Texas, she exclaimed, “Hey, you would have Willie’s number!” He responded by giving her Willie’s … bus number. He said, “Willie’s at home, but even while he’s at home, he hangs out on his bus.” And sure enough, soon after she left a message on Willie’s bus phone, he called back.

I personally found that hysterical. I could just picture Willie hanging out on his tour bus in his driveway. No one questions Willie Nelson’s dedication after releasing over 70 albums, but man, that’s hard-core!

I imagine there are a lot of fun stories and/or anecdotes out there (most likely much cooler than mine). Many of you have been fans for a long time – got any great ones to share?


  1. There’s a great story about how Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris befriended one another.

    Back in 1973, Emmylou was part of Gram Parsons’ Fallen Angels revue, promoting his cult 1973 album GP, and they were performing at Liberty Hall in Houston. One night, they were joined onstage by Linda, who was on tour as the opening act for Neil Young. Linda was very familiar with Gram, though she was less than thrilled with the way he conducted his life, but this was her introduction to Emmy. And that night, when Gram asked her to join the Angels onstage for his classic song “Sin City”, Linda and Emmylou sang together for the first time.

    Later that year, Gram asked Linda to add a harmony part to his song “In My Hour Of Darkness’ to compliment his amd Emmylou’s harmonies, which helped to form a strong friendship between two women who, because each was plowing basically the same musical ground, could just as easily have become fierce rivals. It was a friendship that was cemented after Gram’s legendarily untimely demise, and one that has endured in a way that I don’t think will ever be seen in any other pair of female singers again.

  2. There are a million stories involving Willie, some of them embellished and some of them entirely true. Robert K. Oermann dedicated a chapter to Willie in his new book and in an interview Willie said, “I sometimes pull over. But I am out here on the bus more than I am any other place. I love the bus. It’s my safe area, my halfway house. In Texas, even when I am off, I park it there in front of the house, and I spend as much time on it as I do inside my house.”

    The book also has a hilarious story about the only time Waylon Jennings has ever seen Willie rattled, but I’ll try to keep from republishing the chapter here.

    Willie also has a studio near his house, but whenever he gets the itch, often times, he doesn’t bother going to the studio, but records songs in his pantry that he’s outfitted with a microphone. One of the albums recorded in that room was even nominated for a Grammy. I think he has a few thousand unpublished songs lying around his house and another few hundred sitting around in his studio.

    Another story involves Willie before he made it big. Faron Young recorded “Hello Walls” and Willie offered to sell it to him because he needed some money. Faron gave him $500 and told him not to sell a song climbing the charts, so when Willie got his royalty check, he found Faron in Tootsie’s and kissed him on the mouth.

    I’ve got plenty more, but I’ll stop there.

  3. probably, one of the most memorable rides in music history must have been george jones driving into town on a lawnmover-tractor looking for his next drink.
    pimp up as many rides as you want, that one still beats them all in my book.

  4. Re: Willie

    You could not collect every recording that Willie Nelson has appeared on. Willie has put guest vocals on albums and CDs of artists that are unknown outside of their immediate families. This has happened hundreds of times, maybe thousands of times. If there was ever an artist who lived for his music it is Willie Nelson

  5. Great stories … and an excellent discussion topic. I’ll have to dust off my Ralph Emery books and get back to you with a couple stories. (Otherwise, I’d have my facts all messed up.)

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