Willie Nelson to Hold Benefit Concert For West, Texas | Texas Monthly

willienelson —  April 19, 2013 — 3 Comments

By Andy Langer

Willie Nelson was born and raised in Abbott, Texas, a town roughly five miles north of West, which was recently devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion. I caught up with Willie on his bus in Nashville, Thursday night, before he recorded an eightieth birthday special for CMT.

To you, West means your community, your friends and neighbors.
Sure, I grew up in Abbott. We have a home there. The Methodist church there is our church, and my sister Bobbie and I went to church there all our lives. West is just a few miles down the road—about five miles from where my house is there. We go there whenever I’m in Abbott. We go for kolaches. And there used to be a place called Shadowland that had great stew. It’s our old stomping grounds.

And sadly, your own stomping grounds have been leveled.
Stomped. It’s a horrible thing. Our thoughts and prayers are with those folks going through it all.

People have moved quickly to help, but obviously, they’re going to need so much.
People have really come together. Anybody who can help, I’m sure will. We wanted to give them a few ways. One is turning the concert at the Backyard into a benefit for the West Fire Department. Anybody who can’t buy a ticket can just pretend they did and send the money to the West Fire Department.

I imagine turning the concert into a benefit was an easy decision.
Very easy. It’s a small something, but not enough. There’s other things we’ll think of. People are generous. Over the years, from Farm Aid and other benefits, I’ve learned people want to be asked to help, but they need to know their money is going to the right place.

Money aside, you also believe in music itself as a healing force.
There’s no doubt about it. Music is the healer. That’s why people drive a long way and pay good money to clap and sing along. It’s therapeutic. George Beverly Shea, the great gospel singer, just passed away. He was 104. But let’s keep singing those gospel songs.

But between Boston and this, these have been dark days. The only ray of light, in both cases, seems to be people pitching in to help.
All over the world, people are people. I get ask all the time how was the audience here compared to the audience at some other place. And I say, “They’re no different.” People are people. Same with these tragedies. The people in Boston showed up and they’re helping. They showed a lot of heart. Same with West. Texas is coming together. We’ll get through it.


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3 responses to Willie Nelson to Hold Benefit Concert For West, Texas | Texas Monthly

  1. Willie thank you so much for doing this for West. The news coverage seems to have but exlposion on bach burner. Why couldnt President come to West? Probably because its a repulican state. Thank you for remembering the victms of this horrific event. God bless you

  2. Willie thanks for what you are doing to benefit the victims of west. This tragedy seems to be put on the back burner with the media. God bless you

  3. Willie you are a great America Icon – you represent so much of what America is thinking & feeling about our dear friends in West Texas. After spending some time (our bus broke down 2009) in the warm & friendly town of West myself (oh, the great folks & the kolches!) it is so sad to see the devastation – but triumph is slowly rising through the ashes….thank you for all your support, I know it means so much to so many of our friends in West, Texas. And may God Bless You on your 80th – keep it real dude! On the Road in Lakeside Arizona, Almost Willie

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