Willie Nelson has been one of my father’s favorite singers for more than fifty years. When I asked him about his favorite Willie song, his response was a bit cryptic. “Anything by Willie Nelson works for me,” he stated. “Okay, but there has to be one song that stands out,” I pushed, “like Always on My Mind, Pancho and Lefty, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys maybe.” “No. I like’em all,” he persisted. My aspirations of grilling him about the one song he would want on a deserted island went south real fast. “I like a greatest hits album.” Hmmm. Good idea I guess. Willie’s most popular song, “Always on My Mind”, was actually written by John Jr. Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson Thompson and was one of Willie's biggest hits. My mother passed away unexpectedly in 2007 and I thought for sure my dad would have chosen “Always on My Mind” as his favorite because of her. Maybe it is, but he's keeping it for himself, which I respect. One of my favorite pictures of my parents was taken by Willie Nelson’s late sister, Bobbie Nelson. My mother spent some of her years in retirement as a Blackjack dealer at the Golden Eagle Casino in Northeast Kansas. She loved to deal Blackjack! When Willie Nelson was scheduled to play the casino, my mom used her connections to get my dad backstage and they actually met Willie! Bobbie Nelson even invited them onto the tour bus and promised Willie would come out and talk with them and pose for a picture. And he did just that! Many years later in 2015 while living in Las Vegas, I went to see Willie’s show at Aria Resort and Casino with my good friend Doug. It was a great show and at the end, Willie remained on stage to sign autographs. I had read he does this and I had a copy of that photo of him with my parents with me at the show. The front of the stage was packed! Doug and I made our way closer and Doug was actually denied an autograph by the drummer, Paul English. As I inched closer to Willie, one of his handlers came on stage and whisked him away to end the evening and my mission. The picture still remains unsigned and time is ticking, but I hope to see Willie again and give it another try!
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