He's been playing music and writing songs since he was 5 years old—now, at 73, he's still writing, touring and gaining fans. Willie Nelson talks to Gayle about family life, marijuana and why he just can't wait to get on the road again.
Four marriages and seven children have taught Willie a lot about family. He's been married to his wife, Annie, since 1991—what's their secret? "I travel a lot!" Willie laughs. "She'd be the first to tell you that if we were together all the time it would have lasted four or five days." He says the real secret is taking things one day at a time, always making up and working things out. He also says he's a pushover dad. "One little teardrop and I melt," he says.
Willie's use of marijuana has been well-documented, and he isn't making any excuses. He says he used to smoke a lot of cigarettes and drink a lot of whiskey, and it was killing him. "I realized [marijuana] was better for me, if the only repercussions were that it made me hungry," he says. "I made a choice. I don't recommend it for everybody."
As one of the founding members of Farm Aid, Willie has long been concerned about the welfare of the American farmer. Now he's an advocate of biodiesel and ethanol, alternative fuels that can be processed from crops, helping farmers make money. His wife convinced him to buy a car that runs on 100 percent vegetable oil, recycled from restaurant fryer grease. "The tailpipes smell like French fries," Willie laughs.
Willie says from the time he and his sister started performing in church, he knew he loved to play music. "I have a great band, I love to be around people who play music and people who like music," he says. He's still on the road, playing shows year-round. "I know I have a lot of fans. I play a lot of concerts and they show up. To me, that's the whole deal," he says.