I will admit, I am not someone who has been an avid Willie Nelson listener. This may raise some eyebrows, but people have to remember that in my part of the country, Willie Nelson isn’t played on country radio. Even in the early 2000’s when I got into country music he didn’t get a lot of air time.
Usually it was a song like “Beer for Horses” that would make the cut as time went by. I am very open about not taking part in any drugs, pot etc, but that doesn’t bother me with his music. Willie has had an incredible career - one that has stretched from the time my dad was less than 10 years old, to present day where all his kids are grown and he’s approaching retirement. That is mind boggling. A certain song off his latest album really hit me however and I have to talk about it a bit.
With the death of Merle Haggard in April of 2016, it hit not just country music hard - it shook the entertainment world. I am a believer that quality entertainment is so lacking to what it once was in the “throw-away” society that we live in. That goes from technology devices, to the very shows and movies we watch. There is a reason that classic songs are not going to be the sex driven songs of today. Rather, it’s the timeless songs with meaning and careful lyrics. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Hank Williams, George Jones and so many others are perfect examples of standing the test of time. When a legend dies, it’s a hard thing to cope with due to the incredible presence they have. The household names, the long list of entertainment highlights the have racked up over the years. We as humans have a tough time picturing it ending. Just think of someone like Morgan Freeman passing to see the magnitude of the void that’s left.
When I heard “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” I stopped in my tracks. I heard it on 95.9 The Ranch and I had to just listen to the lyrics. It hit me like a ton of bricks hearing WIllie sing about Merle Haggard. These two were such good friends and suddenly Merle had left this world. All of those years together, sharing some incredible stories, swapping songs and living their lives together. Just over and gone. Listening to the love in Nelson’s voice is just so damn powerful. It’s not like these guys are 30 years old. Merle was 79 and Willie is 84 which gives you the length of time that they have known each other. You’re talking half a century of friendship - that is truly incredible.
With the nearly 20+ times that I have listened to this song, I hear the sincerity in Nelson’s voice louder and louder. The song itself sounds beautiful and is arranged in such a way that you have no choice but to listen to the lyrics. It’s almost hard to not tear up when you hear the description of their friendship, and especially the way that Willie says “we’ll be singin’ him back home from now on…” Willie’s day will come some day as well, as all of ours will. The key is to take advantage of the experiences that we can so that we can look back as fondly as someone like Willie Nelson can.
After-all, someone is going to have to step-up and leave their mark in country music. Someone that doesn’t wear tight jeans confuse rap as country, and knows what pedal steel is.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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