“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson

“Ninety-nine percent of the world’s lovers are not with their first choice. That’s what makes the jukebox play.” – Willie Nelson


It’s his birthday today.

I will never ever forget his performance of “America the Beautiful” in the telethon on September 21, 2001. The date alone says it all.

I saw him in 2017 at Outlaw Fest, and it was such a thrill. One of the things that was a revelation, seeing him live, was the distinct jazz-like riffing quality of his guitar playing. His guitar speaks. It provides a counter to whatever is going on in the melody or in Willie’s voice. It has its own conversation going on, meditative, dreamy. Whatever is happening with the guitar is, of course, the melody – but it is a fractured prismatic version of it: Willie’s VOICE is the melody. It was unbelievable experiencing this live. It’s like he’s doing a DUET with the guitar.

This is one of the greatest Tweets/Pictures I’ve ever seen.

I also want to point your way towards Waiting for the Miracle to Come, a film directed by Lian Lunson, starring Willie Nelson and Charlotte Rampling. The film was shot on Willie Nelson’s ranch in Texas. Willie sings a song written by Bono (who executive produced the film) over the end credits. Soundtrack is also available. I interviewed Lian about Waiting for the Miracle to Come here – and there’s a great Willie Nelson/Bono anecdote included.

I love Willie Nelson. He’s getting so old now. I feel like I have to prepare myself for the next phase. Because it’s coming. And I can’t imagine the American landscape without him being there.

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5 Responses to “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson

  1. Cla says:

    Hi Sheila
    You’re always the one who remember the greatest people in the world. Thank you!
    It’s very difficult to say, this is my favorite song, but among my top 3 by Willie Nelson is Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.
    Long life to him.

    • sheila says:

      I said on Instagram that at least HE’S still with us. But #knockwood on that one.

      A FB friend of mine has directed a movie – shot on Willie Relson’s ranch – starring Willie Nelson and Charlotte Rampling – she let me see a rough cut and it is absolutely magical. I’ll keep everyone posted on when that one will come out or be available. It’s called “Waiting for the Miracle to Come.”

  2. Maureen says:

    This was so beautiful! You somehow always manage to find the things that touch my heart. I didn’t know of this duet, but I loved it-Willy and Dolly-her pulling back her powerful vocals to let him shine. They are so a part of my growing up, going to college, becoming interested in Agriculture, and then country music. The voices of my young adulthood! Happy Birthday Willie-We LOVE you!

    • sheila says:

      I’m so glad to have shared this duet then – I think it’s so so special, especially since they are both basically senior citizens now – so they bring to it all their experience, but also so much hope and deep love. Gorgeous!

  3. Bill Wolfe says:

    Years ago, when I read the quote at the top of your piece, it inspired me to write a song of a similar title (“That’s Why the Jukebox Plays”). I’ve always been grateful to Willie for that. And for “Funny How Time Slips Away,” among others.

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