Given that the first album I ever purchased with my own money was Collective Soul's Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, a record since consigned to the garbage heap of history with the sole distinction of having contributed to the birth of the unfortunate genre "bubblegum grunge," it's safe to say that my tastes as a fourteen-year-old dumbass were fucking terrible. In truth, my tastes still err on the side of "douchey," but if there's one thing I've got going for me anymore, it's that I at least try to keep an open mind. Which was not the case for me in those dumbass years.
Because my most egregious dumbassery, really, was my pat rejection of entire genres of music, and none more so than country. That's why, in a way, I have Willie Nelson to thank for a turning point in my musical education. Specifically, I have a distinct memory of my friend Eric DeCourt telling me about how Willie Nelson allegedly once smoked a joint on the roof of Jimmy Carter's White House and thinking, "Huh, that's actually pretty awesome." And in that small way, my mind was opened.
Of course, Willie Nelson has done way awesomer things than just smoke a lot of weed. It's difficult, really, to underestimate his musical legacy: He basically invented outlaw country, for instance, a fact that serves as an example of how willing he's always been to buck the establishment and put out shit Nashville hated — like The Red-Headed Stranger, possibly country's only concept album ever — and in the process redefine what country could mean. He's rendered some of the most beloved versions of already-famous songs ("Why Not Take All of Me," "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain") and written some of the most beloved songs of others (Patsy Cline's "Crazy").
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Dude even sang on "We are the World," for shit's sake. He's like a god. If there's anyone who deserves to be immortalized in stone within his own lifetime, it's Willie Nelson. So it's pretty cool that the city of Austin, Texas, is erecting a statue of him this week. Personally, I've always dreamed of my granite pecs being rendered in actual granite, so I can only imagine Willie Nelson is fucking ecstatic about it right now. It's the timing of the unveiling that's unfortunate.
At 4:20 p.m. on 4/20, the stoner's holiest hour.
Now, I've got nothing against weed, per se. I've smoked an ass-ton of it over the years, and I'm all for legalizing it — actually, I'm in favor of legalizing all drugs — but let's not get so caught up in that argument that we can't see drugs for what they are, which is fun, and not much more. People who define themselves according to their various drugs of preference are not edgy or romantic; they're depressing, and making Willie Nelson's statue about his pot habit is like erecting a statue of Elliott Smith injecting heroin into his nut-sac: It's inappropriate, but what's worse is that it disregards the important part of his legacy in favor of a dumbass fourteen-year-old's conception of what makes him cool.
Then again, Willie Nelson seems okay with it. What a stoner.