Five Songs For Willie Nelson
(Photo: Tim Sharp/AP)
As you probably already heard, Willie Nelson was arrested for marijuana possession during a traffic stop on November 26 in his home state of Texas. If convicted, the 77-year-old country icon could spend up to 180 days in jail. No matter where you stand on the legalization issue, you have to admit that wacky tobaccy has forever altered the course of popular music. Just ask Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
Here’s five songs that Willie can sing to himself as he awaits his court date. Give us your own song suggestions the comments.
“Legalize It” Peter Tosh
If pot had become legal this year, as it always seems on the verge of becoming, Willie Nelson wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. In the meantime, this 1976 reggae anthem remains relevant. “Doctor’s smoke it,” sings Peter Tosh in a voice that’s practically sticky with resin. “Even the lawyer too.” Also, according to Dr. Tosh, it’s good for the flu, the asthma, tuberculosis, and umara composis, although they don’t teach that in medical school.
“Truckin'” The Grateful Dead
“Busted down on Bourbon Street,” sing the Dead in this beloved ode to the road from American Beauty. “Set up like a bowling pin.” The lyrics, by Robert Hunter, perfectly capture the traveling musician’s occasionally paranoid lifestyle, and speed by in a hallucinatory rush of imagery. It’s the eighth-most performed song in the band’s catalog, and in 1997 it was declared a national treasure by the Library of Congress. Nice one, Library.
“Coming Into Los Angeles” Arlo Guthrie
A sped-up, minor key dirge about the drug trade, this track from 1969’s Running Down The Road, as performed by a presumably stoned Guthrie, is one of the highlights of the original Woodstock movie. “Don’t check my bags if you please, mister customs man,” pleads Woody’s son, before cracking himself up over “rapping to the fuzz” and the condition of the New York State Thruway.
“You Gotta Move” The Rolling Stones
How do artists like Snoop Dogg and Nelson, who are associated with the sticky icky, not get busted more often? It’s a modern day mystery. “You may be high, you may be low,” warns Mick Jagger in this old blues stomper, originally written by Fred McDowell and Rev. Gary Davis. “You may be rich child, you may be poor. But when the Lord, get’s ready, you got to move.” You can substitute “the Law” for “the Lord.” Either way, it’s solid advice.
“Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35” Bob Dylan
Leave it to Bob Dylan to write a song about drugs that ostensibly has nothing to do with drugs. “Everybody must get stoned” can refer to an old-timey method of persecution, as well as an altered state of consciousness. Nelson could probably write his own lyrics at this point: “They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your bus. They’ll stone you in the month before Christmas.” Dylan’s infamous Blonde On Blonde opener, which reached #2 in the pop charts, has been covered by the likes of the Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffet and Jessie Colter.