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Happy Willie Day, Dawg Sports.

As part of our continuing identity as a college sports blog with a bit of a wandering cultural eye, we here at Dawg Sports wanted to take this opportunity to recognize the 80th birthday of an American musical treasure.

Christian Petersen

Maestro, dust off your boots and play us a tune or two:

It's become fashionable in recent years to bemoan the current state of country music. But the mere fact that it's fashionable doesn't mean it's a bad idea. Heck, deodorant is also fashionable, that doesn't mean you should rebel against it. You should join right in on that craze.

And I think the demise of country music is probably a bit overblown. There remain some artists with integrity out there, you just have to look for them. Radio stations will not push them in front of you unless they appeal to a sizeable cross section of listeners in the 18-49 year old demographic, and aren't too rock or too country or swear too much.

Speaking of people who are a little rock, a little country, and like to swear a little, today is the birthday of the red headed stranger himself, Willie Hugh Nelson, who is celebrating his 80th. Nelson has released over 100 albums and sold 40 million records. He performed with Texas swing pioneer Bob Wills at age 13. His 1978 album Stardust remained on the country album chart for 540 weeks, almost ten and a half years. He once performed a duet of "Up Against The Wall, You Redneck Mother" with First Lady Rosalynn Carter at the White House. He's a member of the National Agricultural Hall of Fame (for his support of family farmers through FarmAid not his interest in , err, organic farming). And before he made it big Willie served in the Air Force and worked variously as a Bible, vaccum cleaner, and encyclopedia salesman. Put another way, even if you don't like country music, you kind of have to tip your hat to Nelson for being a true American original.

Willie has done more interesting things in any given decade of his extraordinary life than you or I have done in our entire lives. And the music establishment's candidate to replace him is Kenny Freakin' Chesney.The notion that Peyton Manning's balding mini-me may one day be the biggest selling country music artist of all time is just a little depressing. As if you didn't have enough reasons not to feel sorry for Tennessee fans and their recent football failings.

Bottom line, they don't make 'em like ole Willie anymore. And if they do, we probably won't collectively realize it for another couple of decades. So I'm glad that I can go on record right now wishing him a very special birthday.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled college sports website, already in progress. Until later . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!