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Willie Nelson

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Sept 18 2006 - Willie Nelson and four others were issued misdemeanor citations for possession of narcotic m*******s and marijuana after a traffic stop Monday morning on a Louisiana highway, state police said.

The citations were issued after a commercial vehicle inspection of the country music star's tour bus, state police said in a news release.

"When the door was opened and the trooper began to speak to the driver, he smelled the strong odor of marijuana," the news release said. A search of the bus produced 1½ pounds of marijuana and slightly more than three ounces of narcotic m*******s.

21 Aug 2005 - By John Gerome The Associated Press - Willie Nelson is so prolific that sometimes even he forgets he has another record coming out.

At a recent show in Nashville, Tenn., with Bob Dylan, Nelson performed a long list of hits, but not a single song from his long-awaited reggae album, "Countryman," which came out in July.

"I keep forgetting," Nelson said a few days later by telephone from the road, which he's called home for most of the last 30 years. "The set is so short."

Nelson will perform Sunday evening at the Embassy Theatre. He joined country singer Toby Keith for a concert at Memorial Coliseum in November 2003 and did a solo gig at the Embassy in August 2003.

He began work on the reggae album in 1995 for Island Records, but the project was shelved after Island founder Chris Blackwell left the company. It languished until Nelson moved to Lost Highway Records.

Produced by Don Was, who has worked with the Rolling Stones and Bonnie Raitt, among others, the album includes reggae versions of Nelson songs such as "Darkness on the Face of the Earth" and "One in a Row." There also are covers of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" and "Sitting in Limbo," and a song called "I'm a Worried Man" by Johnny and June Carter Cash that Nelson recorded as a duet with Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals.

"When he (Cash) found out I was doing a reggae album, he said, 'Hey, I've got a reggae song that I wrote when I lived there,'" Nelson said. "Toots heard it and liked it."

Nelson said he recorded them about 10 years ago in Los Angeles with Jamaican musicians, including some from the late reggae star Peter Tosh's band.

While the music on "Countryman" might raise the eyebrows of country purists, so will the cover. With green marijuana leaves on a red and yellow background, the cover art makes the CD look like an oversized pack of rolling papers.

The marijuana imagery reflects Jamaican culture, where the herb is a leading cash crop and part of religious rites, but it also reflects Nelson's fondness for pot smoking.

Universal Music Group Nashville is substituting palm trees for the marijuana leaves on CDs sold at the retail chain Wal-Mart, a huge outlet for country music that's also sensitive about lyrics and packaging.

"They're covering all the bases," Nelson said.

If any country star can get away with marijuana leaves on a CD, it's Nelson. Besides being an innovator and leading figure in American music, he has also been a rebel and outlaw.

After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he moved his family from his native Texas to Nashville and tried to break through as a singer in the early 1960s. But his off-the-beat, conversational delivery was unconventional by Nashville standards.

He returned to Texas in 1970 and began building a fan base with his live shows. He grew his hair long, stripped down his sound and attracted a youthful rock audience. He made more than a dozen albums before he hit his stride with "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain," "Georgia on My Mind," "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys," "On the Road Again," "Always on My Mind" and "Whiskey River."

Along the way, Nelson started a successful film career ("Electric Horseman," "Wag the Dog" and "The Dukes of Hazzard"), and organized the Farm Aid concerts with John Mellencamp and Neil Young.

This summer, in addition to touring as a solo act, Nelson and Dylan are performing in minor league ballparks. On stage the two are a study in contrasts. Nelson opens with smiles and waves and a predictable, hit-heavy set. Dylan sits off to the side behind a keyboard, plays few hits and changes the set list every night.

The two almost never perform together.

"I go on so early, I can be halfway to the next town before he shows up," said Nelson, who says he and Dylan have discussed doing a song or two together, as well as sitting down for a game of chess, but they haven't had the time.

At 72, Nelson continues to record and perform at a breakneck pace. He said his best record is still ahead of him.

"I feel like we're doing one now that's going to be better than anything else we've ever done," he said...

WILLIE NELSON: "I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?"
 
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