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Willie Nelson in Wall Street Journal: 'America's Favorite Outlaw'

Willie Nelson by Mark Seliger (image via Wall Street Journal)

In a career retrospective article in Wall Street Journal, Willie Nelson is hailed by the likes of Woody Harrelson, Dolly Parton, Beto O'Rourke, Kacey Musgraves and Chris Stapleton.

While Harrelson describes Nelson as a "really playful kid who, luckily, never grew up," Parton says, "Everybody relates to Willie, he’s just an all-American boy." 

O'Rourke adds: "Willie revolutionized American music and American culture."

Musgraves notes: “Willie exudes peace and pure love. There’s a gentleness about him, but also a no-bullshit realness.”

Writer Alan Light saves Nelson's cannabis comments for last.

"You might have been crazy to start with, but smoking marijuana won’t make you crazy."


Excerpt from the WSJ Article

One cause closely associated with Willie Nelson is the legalization of marijuana. For decades, he’s cultivated an image as the world’s greatest stoner. (“You can’t out-smoke Willie,” says Stapleton. “Just know there’s some battles you can’t win.”) As laws have changed, he’s taken advantage of the business opportunity. In 2015, he launched his own recreational brand, Willie’s Reserve, which he followed up with the wellness brand Willie’s Remedy, which features hemp-based products including coffee, tea, balm and tinctures.

On the day of our interview, New York State had legalized recreational cannabis use. He admitted that he never expected to see the day when weed would be so widely accepted. “But as the years passed and more and more people saw money, it changed a lot of minds,” he says. “And they realized that it didn’t make you crazy - you might have been crazy to start with, but smoking marijuana won’t make you crazy. So they realized that it’s not for everybody, but for some people it’s good medicine, and there’s also that bottom line that’s drawing more and more people to it.”

Can you still be an outlaw, though, when the same stuff that you were arrested for is now trading on Wall Street? Nelson laughed, and replied with an all-American comparison. “Remember Davy Crockett?” he asks. “His famous saying was ‘Be sure you’re right and go ahead.’ After all these years, I still think that’s really good advice. Make sure you’re right and then go on. And I’ve known that I was right about this all along.

“I know the difference between marijuana and cigarettes,” he continues. “I know the difference between a glass of water and whiskey. You can overdo even a good thing, but I’ve learned a lot of things over the years, and my lungs appreciate me more since I quit smoking cigarettes, and I may be living longer because of some of the changes that I made.”

Everyone around Nelson talks about his humility. While he’s waiting to get back on the road again, he’s had time to reflect, and even he admits that his life and music have left a mark. “Time will let you know how good you were,” he says. “And if you’re still around and still active when you’re 88 years old, you got to be kind of proud of what you did. And I am.”


More Willie Links

Happy 88th Birthday

Offers Sheryl Crow's Dad a Hit

• "I Smoke a Lot of Pot"

 High on the Roof of the White House

• His Trusty Guitar Trigger


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.