Willie Nelson: A Texan’s Take on Country, Then and Now

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Willie Nelson. The name evokes images of braids, red bandanas, and a rebellious spirit. But beyond the iconic look lies a man who, along with his friend Waylon Jennings, carved a path in country music history known as “outlaw country.”

The 1970s saw a Nashville chasing trends, a shift that didn’t sit well with Willie. He wasn’t one for conformity. In a rare unearthed interview from 1974, Willie, hanging out with Waylon, throws down the truth like a well-worn Stetson. His words, captured on grainy film that somehow feels timeless, resonate even today.

WFAA Collection

Back then, Nashville was a place where executives held the reins, and Willie wasn’t having it. He, along with fellow Texan musicians like Jerry Jeff Walker and Michael Murphy, felt protective of their genre. They didn’t want “high rollers and rip-off artists” leaching off their sound.

Willie’s passion is palpable. He wanted country music to “keep growing, naturally,” not become a playground for outsiders looking for a quick buck. This sentiment, you might be surprised to know, feels just as relevant today. With country music booming in the mainstream, the fight for authenticity seems to be an ongoing battle.

Willie & Waylon’s Fight for Country’s Soul

The irony, as Willie himself points out in a later interview clip, is that the “outlaw” label was more of a marketing ploy than anything. “Wanted! The Outlaws,” the record that cemented their status as rebels, was a product of the very industry they were fighting against. Yet, the music resonated. It was raw, honest, and true to their roots. It was everything country music, for them, should be.


Willie’s defiance wasn’t just about him. It was about protecting the heart and soul of a genre. Fast forward to 2024, and he’s still putting out albums – a staggering 98th in his career! The fire in his belly hasn’t dimmed a bit.

That 1974 interview? It’s gold. Not just for the historical value, but because it feels like a conversation happening right now. Willie and Waylon, with their shades and relaxed Texas drawl, could be talking about the state of country music today.

So, if you’re looking for a dose of musical history that feels fresh and relevant, check out that old interview. It’s a glimpse into the past with a message for the future. And who knows, you might just fall in love with two guys who didn’t give a flying fig about the status quo, all while looking damn cool doing it.

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