Willie Nelson, Turning 90, on the Keys to His Longevity

Share This:

Willie Nelson—with Trigger, and his son, Lukas Nelson—performing at Farm Aid 2018

As Willie Nelson approaches his 90th birthday—he’ll hit that mark on April 29, 2023—the music legend is being celebrated for his remarkable output and longevity. He spoke with AARP Entertainment about his nomination for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the other honors he’s received during his career, his famous guitar, Trigger, and what he does on a day off. Nelson will be celebrating his landmark with a two-day concert event at the Hollywood Bowl, where he’ll be joined by such stars as Neil Young, Tom Jones and Rosanne Cash, among many others. The interview was conducted by Edna Gundersen, a regular AARP music critic, who was the longtime pop critic for USA Today.

Q: Why work on your 90th birthday instead of taking the day off?

A: Working is really good for me, no matter what kind of show it is. The fact that I’ll be there for two days with a lot of my good friends coming out and saying hello and singing with me makes it a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it.

Q: You’re a nominee for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year. How do you feel about the award and rock in general?

A: I appreciate it very much. I love rock music. I’ve been listening to it ever since it came out, I guess. Leon Russell was one of my favorite people and a great rock musician.

Q: You’ve amassed a warehouse of honors over your career. Do some matter more than others?

A: I appreciate them all, especially anything that has to do with music. The other things too. We’ve been doing Farm Aid for a long time, and people realize how that has helped a lot of farmers around the country. I worked farms in my early life, so I know how rough it is to make a living that way.

Q: Aging takes a toll on vocal cords. How do you keep your voice in shape?

A: I think singing is good for my voice. I don’t do anything to harm it much anymore. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Q: How is Trigger (the battered Martin N-20 acoustic guitar you’ve played since 1969), and have you thought about leaving it to a museum, or would you rather be buried with it?

A: Trigger has a life and a personality all his own. Whenever I die, I’ll let somebody else decide what Trigger does. He should be somewhere where he’s appreciated.

Q: You’ve written hundreds of songs, including classics like “Crazy,” “Night Life,” “Hello Walls” and “On the Road Again.” Is it getting harder to come up with ideas?

A: Now and then, I’ll come up with another song. When I have enough, I’ll put an album out. I don’t try to push it. I think I’ve been kind of lucky through the years. I just wait and let it happen. I might go a while without writing. I used to worry about it. Roger Miller told me, “Every now and then, the well goes dry. You have to live a while to refill the well.”

Q: Have you considered retiring from the road?

A: Jokingly, I retire after every tour. But I’m always ready to go back again. I like the bus. I have everything I need on the bus. I never have to go into a hotel room anywhere.

Q: Describe a good day off.

A: I’m right outside of Austin, on top of a hill. I got a few horses, great scenery. I have an old truck I like to drive around. There are other great places in the world, but Texas is my place.

Nelson has a typically busy concert schedule planned for 2023. Tickets are available here and here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

1 Comment so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. Becky in Texas
    #1 Becky in Texas 16 April, 2023, 09:34

    Willie is legendary. I’ve seen him many times in many different decades—he never disappoints and loves his audience passionately. Keep on keeping on, Willie! We’ll be listening!

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.