long hairs and symphonies (or) where my symphonies lie

I like Willie Nelson’s music , but I wasn’t interested when Ada asked me if I wanted to go to see him at the Hollywood Bowl . He’s too old , I thought . I listened to his Reggae album recently , too  — bad news . Some guys should just retire .

hollywood bowl

I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of Willie . I’m not a big fan of any musician . Most music I like . Some I like more than others . I love Dylan , but he should retire , too . We heard him at the Bowl last year . Bad news . Some guys should just retire .

I remember Willie way back when he grew his hair long . It was in the America Love It Or Leave It days , the days when dirty long-hairs were un-American Commie traitor troublemakers . You  ‘member those Vietnam War / anti-War protest days ?  And then Willie grew his hair and swung his braids around proudly .  Willie’s braids are underestimated in analyses  of modern American history .

Did he still have his braids when I saw him last night at the Hollywood Bowl ? I’m not sure . We were way way up in the nosebleed section , almost as far up as it’s possible to get .  There are four big screens nowadays to watch what’s happening on stage . Otherwise we see just a speck way down there on stage . It could be anyone down there , or no one .  The sound’s good but the stage is too far away at night to know what goes on on it  but for those big screens . But I still couldn’t  be sure if he was still wearing  those braids  .

Lyle Lovett opened for Willie . Lyle had a large band with him that drowned Lyle out a little too much for my liking . But , Lyle’s music  sounded great . That Lyle would be there was the reason that I signed on to go see Willie .

Willie opened with the accompaniment of the Hollywood Bowl symphony orchestra .

The orchestra sounded great . Very exquisitely silky  symphonic philharmonic style . And Willie Nelson , up there on the monitors , plinking a note now and again on his worn guitar , sometimes even  strumming a chord . Or two . Closeup of his well – used guitar , and his  well-worn 80-year-0ld voice trying to sing melodies . ” This is my all time favorite , ” said Willie at one point , just before he slipped into a song about snowy winters in Vermont .  Wasn’t Tony Bennett . Wasn’t Old Blue Eyes . Wasn’t Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme . Not Perry Como or Nat King Cole . Just Willie Nelson from Abbott, Texas , trying in futility to accompany the philharmonic collected crowd on their chairs with their music sheets  in their black clothes and the maestro behind him .

When Willie grew his hair long America changed .  Suddenly not all long-hairs were dirty hippie Commie Should-Leave-Its . All of a sudden , all of a sudden , long hair was neutralized as a political billy club. You going to accuse Willie Nelson of being un-American ? Until Charlie Manson came along later to take it again in another direction , long hair was suddenly o.k. ,  thanks to Willie Nelson . willie nelson

Willie played so many tunes with the Bowl orchestra that I began to eye the exits , to  plan our early escape . Ada said , ” This is what you were expecting , wasn’t it ?  That’s why you didn’t want to come . ”  No , not really . This was worse , the unfortunate pairing of a rough country western singer like Willie Nelson with a symphony —- what chance has the guy got ?  He’s what ? , going to accompany the cello section with his old guitar ?  The tuxedoed director was standing up there , too , waving his baton . Willie was desperately but pathetically pretending to be part of it . It was weird.

Finally , Willie told the orchestra to settle down . They sat back . Ada said even Willie Nelson was probably bored half to death , about to fall asleep ,  too . Willie then launched into ” Just roll me up and smoke me when I die “.  He waved his arms and played his guitar . There he was ! He had suddenly shown up for his own concert  !  He ( finally )  played a few songs without the beautifully inappropriate Bowl orchestra overwhelming before he quit . It was worth waiting for .

” I told you he still has it , ” Ada said . Ada is always right .willie nelson 2


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2 responses to “long hairs and symphonies (or) where my symphonies lie

  1. Something tells me we’re not in Luckenbach, Texas, anymore, Toto.

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