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Coddled Kids & Shrooms

Movin’s the closest thing to bein’ free – Waylon

Went to see the Red Headed Stranger in Prospect Park last night. That’s Willie Nelson for those not in the know, and not Danny Bonaduce. Although Bonaduce might have been a welcome addition to the crowd which, from my estimate, contained mostly fourth generation hipsters and baby-strolling Park Slope parents. I’ve written about the latter before, and their penchant for wheeling their prized bundles of joy to these shows and decking them out with noise-canceling headphones in order to protect their precious, still-forming ears. Is it just me, or has anybody else noticed how annoying most other peoples’ kids are? Had nature not provided most of us with the inexplicable instinct to fawn over that which our own loins produce there would be a lot more abandoned offspring out there. Which is somewhat ironic, as it presents a scenario in which these noise-canceling headphones might be of genuine use, in order to block out all the plaintive wailing. Anyway … “Get off my LAWN .. ”

“Outlaw Country,” the genre that Nelson is credited with having helped start, and “Park Slope, Brooklyn,” are words that probably shouldn’t be uttered in the same sentence. This didn’t seem to bother Willie, though, and he motored through a tight set of old favorites, recent tunes, and plenty of deftly-administered nylon string picking. There was some lead-up discussion about how this was his first show ever at the venue. Given the number of days a year he’s touring, new venues likely register on the same scale as moving the TV a few feet to the left in one’s living room. I’ve seen him perform many times over the years and the shows have all followed a similar pattern, with the new wrinkle being a few tunes from his recent releases. This time it was two of his “weed tunes”: “It’s All Going To Pot” and “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die.” He’s become something of a national spokesman for the herb, having used it in abundance over the years. It was fun to watch the Park Slope parents scramble to cover their precious progenies’ already-covered ears, then stop to reconsider. “Wait .. it’s legal in Colorado and Oregon .. I don’t want to be sending the wrong *message* here ..”

Willie skipped an encore and was likely already partaking in some high-potency ganja by the time the lights went up. You have to admire an 82 year-old man whose life has consisted mostly of jogging, smoking weed, playing golf, living in Hawaii, and touring the country in a bus. OK .. you don’t .. but I do. After the show I did a cursory check of where he’d be heading and found that he’s scheduled for Garrettsville, Ohio on Friday night, followed by Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sunday. Yeah, that sounds about right.

One of my favorite Willie stories happened in late 2006, when his bus was pulled over by a Louisiana state trooper. To quote one article: “When the door was opened and the trooper began to speak to the driver, he smelled the strong odor of marijuana. A search of the bus produced 1½ pounds of marijuana and slightly more than three ounces of narcotic mushrooms.”  There was enough on the bus to merit felony distribution charges had it been in one person’s possession, but all aboard claimed the stash as their own, and each was charged with a misdemeanor then released. What are the odds, that all riding the Nelson Family Bus would be so savvy under such circumstances? A pound and a half of pot is one thing; I figure Willie typically goes through that himself in a good week. But over three ounces of mushrooms? Of course he was only 73 at the time, so I suppose you could chalk it up to youthful experimentation. “Take off that stupid headset, Junior, I’ve got a story to tell you about Uncle Willie ..”

I’m glad I went to the show and would recommend catching it if comes your way. There are very few iconic American performers left out there, and I put Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan at the top of the list. It’s easy to take these guys for granted, as they’re out there most nights of the year performing somewhere on their respective never-ending tours. But one day they won’t be, and all we’ll be left with is a bunch of up-starts talking about the day their parents took them to see — but not hear — these legends. Thankfully and for now, the show goes on.

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  1. Paul Tognotti wrote:

    Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…

    Friday, August 14, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    Don’t let ’em pick guitars and drive them old trucks / teach them to run community-based food co-ops and such ..

    Friday, August 14, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

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