Tag Archive | concert

If Loving Willie Nelson Makes Me a Redneck, Then Pass The Canned Meat

Willie Nelson photographed for Rolling Stone, in his main building ... I think they call it the saloon, outside of Austin TX on November 4, 2013 Display or On Page credit: Photograph by LeAnn Mueller CAPITAL 'A' in LeAnn

Willie Nelson photographed for Rolling Stone, in his main building … I think they call it the saloon, outside of Austin TX on November 4, 2013
Display or On Page credit: Photograph by LeAnn Mueller
CAPITAL ‘A’ in LeAnn

Last month I was at a swanky luncheon for a birthday party.  Never very good at small talk, I leaned over to a virtual stranger and posed this question: “Does having an obsession with Willie Nelson make me white trash?”  To her credit, she blinked only once and gave me an emphatic, ” ‘Fraid so.” She wasn’t kidding.  She’s also ten years my junior and a thousand times hipper (like I’m pretty sure she doesn’t drive a mini-van or turn in at 9:30 at night), so I know she was telling the truth.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  My friend Robert has been referring for years to the “redneck Willie Nelson thing” I do.

At summer camp one year we had a white trash day (is that racist? tasteless?) and I remember lots of jokes about canned meat, like Vienna sausages, and marrying family members with no teeth.  If that’s what people think of when they think of Willie and his music, well, I can’t stop ’em.

But let me say this:

It’s not easy being a fan of an 82-year-old country music legend.

First, people assume I like country music.  For the record, I hate country music.  Hate. It.  I’m serious.  As a genre it ranks just after Gregorian chant and only slightly above Yo Gabba Gabba.  I really only like Willie.  I can tolerate Johnny Cash.  Waylon Jennings is alright.  I enjoy Kris Kristofferson, but he’s a Rhodes scholar who studied literature at Oxford, and he has a gorgeous head of hair to boot.  There’s nothing trash about that.

But contemporary country.  Yuck.  I have no opinion on Miranda Lambert and that tall guy she’s married to.  Or Eric Church.  I’ll cop to a soft spot for all Texas-born musicians, which is roughly 4/5 of them, but I don’t want to listen to them.  I will also declare my undying devotion to Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith, but they’re not country. They’re “singer songwriters.”

Wait. I know what you’re thinking.  Yes, I’m a Dolly Parton fan, but that’s technically blue grass, so fuck off.

My point is that 99% of country music can go have a cocktail with Bill Cosby for all I care.

Second, and way worse than being mistaken for a country music fan (*shudder*), is that octogenarians who tour sometimes have to cancel their shows.  Like last Friday, when Willie’s undisclosed health issue forced him to cancel a show in Hammon, Indiana.  I had second row (center) seats for that show at the Horseshoe Casino.  (Classy, thy name is Christie.)

I got the email about the cancellation in the middle of the work day.  I pounded on my desk so hard and let out a barbaric yawp so loud and pathetic that my next-door neighbor coworker ran into my office to check on me.

It’s pretty amazing to tell someone who thinks you just erased a day’s worth of work or blew a court-ordered deadline that, no, you’re just having a conniption fit because Willie Nelson canceled his show. (God, just writing that sentence makes me well up.)

“Hi, coworker who is still trying to decide if I’m cool, don’t mind me having a complete episode of decompensation over the status of Willie Nelson’s health.  Move along.”

I moped around all night, then crawled into bed to read his just-released memoir It’s A Long Story.  I find comfort where I can get it.

There is hope: the show’s been rescheduled to September.  I’m saying the rosary every night that Willie is healthy and strong enough to play that night.   In the meantime, I’m picking up the pieces and moving on the best I can, but not eating potted meats or listening to twangy, Nashville country “music.”



Would You Wear Mom Jeans to Justin Timberlake?

When I bought the tickets in November I had one goal: to make it to the concert dressed in something other than my cozy, over-sized jeans, those last faded mementos from a maternity leave for my son who just turned three.

“I”m not wearing mom jeans to Justin Timberlake, so help me Baby Jesus,” I vowed.

Actually, I had two goals. I also wanted to wear a bra purchased from somewhere other than Target.

Lofty goals, people.  I was  Justin Timberlake, after all.

Would you wear your mom jeans for him?

Would you wear your mom jeans for him?
Image credit: Sebastian Kim/GQ

But somehow between November and Sunday night’s concert, life got in the way.  Holidays, birthday parties, rearranged aisles at Costco (Hello? Where are the roasted almonds, south side Costco?).  And it’s not like I forgot about the concert.  More than once I looked lovingly at that tiny square on my Google calendar that said, “J. Timberlake concert,” on February 16. That simple entry got me through  many a long, winter afternoon.

I couldn’t find the jeans I wanted to wear: the Joe’s jeans that make me feel like I have long legs, a perfect backside and L’Oreal hair.  I finally fished them out of the bottom of my dirty clothes hamper, thinking maybe they’d be okay.  Sure, they were dirty, but there’s dirty and then there’s too dirty to wear.  Unfortunately, these were the latter– the combo yogurt-snot stain on the leg was too much.

As for the bra, let’s just say I missed in that goal as well, which wasn’t surprising since 99% of my bras failed to meet the desired criteria.

But when the opening chords were struck, I didn’t care that my undergarments cost half of what it cost to park for the concert.  I didn’t care that I’d be awakened before dawn by my son who would want to nurse.  Who cares? It was a night out seeing a great show.

The concert was a near-perfect show, marred only by my incessant worry that JT was dancing too close to the edge of the stage and might fall.  It was perfect because I was out past 11 for the first time in ages (that trip the ER in September doesn’t count).  I had the money to buy a ticket for a not-cheap show. I had the eyes and ears to appreciate the scrappy, dancey, sexy business that is JT.  I had a dear friend willing to come with me and talk about the hassles of childcare during the intermission.  I had (and have) a husband who’s willing to be honest that he does not want to attend but will happily hold down the fort with the kids.

Life is good.  Way better than it was when 0% of my bras were from Target and all my jeans were “hot.”  It’s not that I “still got it” but it’s just that I don’t really need “it” like I used to.  And that’s okay with me.

Reclaiming Willie Nelson

I feel like cursing right now. I know that can be offensive, so I am giving you this warning so you can avert your eyes.

When did I get so fucking courteous?  I am sure it won’t last.

But I am sufficiently emotionally scrambled from the Willie Nelson concert I attended the other night. Let me tell you, the Red-Headed Stranger (FN 1) fucked me up.  Not only am I listening to his music non-stop now (you try running a few miles to To All The Girls I Loved Before”), but I am flooded with memories from my childhood in Texas.  Willie Nelson’s music is the soundtrack of my youth.  When it was time to go to bed, my dad would sing, “Turn Out The Lights, the Party’s Over,” and I remember where I was sitting in our living room when he explained to me that Willie Nelson penned the Patsy Cline signature hit, “Crazy.”

Willie Nelson at Farm Aid 2009 (image credit: Wikipedia)

Willie Nelson at Farm Aid 2009 (image credit: Wikipedia)

But here’s the thing, since I left Texas in 1995, I purposefully left certain things behind.  I am not sure why exactly.  Maybe it was a normal part of individuation and coming of age, but going to the Willie Nelson three days ago was like stepping back to my past and grabbing a piece of the old stuff for myself.

It feels so fucking weird.

For all these years, I divided the world into things that belonged to me, and those that belonged to my past and my family back home in Bush country.  The things for me included Chicago, therapy, and liberal politics. The things I left behind included the Catholic Church, college football, and Tex-Mex food.  While I have had some success sharing parts of myself with them, I haven’t been as successful at joining them with the things I consider “theirs.”

Until Thursday night.

Willie Nelson took the stage and started with my mother’s favorite song: “Whiskey River.”  I felt my heart lurch along with the steel guitar.  I didn’t see anyone else there welling up during “On the Road Again,” but I was.  I could see the allure of Willie– he’s irreverent, talented, and his “I don’t give a fuck” attitude is charming in an expected way.  Half way through his show– around the time he dipped into his gospel tunes– I realized I wanted a piece of him for myself.  I wanted to share Willie Nelson, and all he stands for in my own history, with my family.

Me? Wanting to share? It’s unheard of.

I will note that Willie Nelson’s obsession with getting drunk and high is a tad bit distracting for me, but his talent is larger than all that.  And, OHMYGOD, he’s 79 years old and still going on tour to sing the classics that his fans want to hear.  There is plenty to admire in Mr. Willie Nelson, just like there’s plenty to admire in some of the things I left behind (even the Catholic Church, I suspect).

To say that the concert was a trip down memory lane is an understatement and a cliche.  More precisely, it was chance to look backwards and reclaim a forsaken part of myself and my history so it can live and come with me into my future.

The best part of it all was that I bought myself a red bandana and decided who I was going to be for Halloween.

Look for me next to the Tootsie Rolls singing “On the Road Again.”


FN 1: Nickname for Willie Nelson? The Red-headed stranger.

My Husband Doesn’t Know I Am Posting Our Texts: The Willie Nelson Edition

This is a post for all my male readers.

Here’s the deal, Gents: When you take your sweet time answering the texts or phone calls or emails wherein we ask you a question, we will start to make up fascinating little storylines in our heads.  Your silence is a blank slate on which we will fingerpaint with our neurosis.

You  might have thought that dynamic ended with dating, and if you married an emotionally stable woman, you might be right.  But for guys like Jeff who married women like me, there is serious danger in letting inquiries go unanswered.

EXHIBIT A: (My texts appear in green and blue. FN 1)

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

I discovered that the legendary Willie Nelson was playing a concert in Chicago and decided I wanted to go.  Really badly.  Jeff was out of town at the time, so I sent him a text at 2:15 PM to open a conversation about getting tickets.  Initially, I wanted him to know I would never think of forcing him to attend.  (Is there anything worse than going to a concert with someone who doesn’t want to be there?)

My opening salvo was of the breezy “don’t worry, you are off the hook for this, but put it on your calendar because I am going out that night; oh, and also, the tickets are on the pricey side so don’t flip out” variety.


When I didn’t immediately hear from Jeff, who has the gall to be busy doing his job when I was texting about MY social calendar, I had a chance to think.

That usually gets us all in trouble.

Wait. I have never seen Willie Nelson in concert.  Willie’s kind of a big deal for my Texas and familial history, and he provided the early soundtrack of my life.  Maybe it’s wrong to let Jeff off the hook.  Maybe it’s important to experience this with Jeff.  OH MY GOD, I am blocking intimacy with Jeff by excluding him from this.  I am a terrible wife. I am going to fix this.

So, that’s how I ended up sending the second text 19 minutes later.  That’s the text that hints I was doing some deep thinking about history and intimacy.

No wonder Jeff wanted to give this whole thing some breathing room. (Also, he was busy at his job.)

Then, hours went by.  Kids were fed and bathed.  Books were read.  Compulsive text-checking ensued.  No word from Jeff for almost 5 hours.  Naturally, I assumed he was either dead or furious that I would invite him to a country music concert.


I suppose if Jeff wants to avoid an invitation, he should simply wait me out, because I will probably do this routine every single time. (Points for consistency?)  On the other hand, if I ever invite him to something he would like to attend, he better answer my texts in less than 5.5 hours.

FN 1: Why do some of my texts appear in blue and some in green?  AT&T, are you reading? What’s up with that?  I would prefer one or the other for aesthetic purposes.  I have a blog to run, you know.