Willie Nelson at the Backyard
Perched on a hill overlooking a stage with a Texas flag as a backdrop, I saw a modern American legend. I jumped at the chance to see Willie Nelson at the Backyard in Austin last last weekend. The Backyard is a popular venue in these parts and I had been on the lookout for an artist that I’d like to see that would be performing there. Who could pass up good seats to see Willie Nelson in Texas?
He threw in a few new songs (“A Peaceful Solution” and “I’m Not Funny Anymore”) but the show was mostly an anthology of his greatest hits. “Whisky River” was great with everyone in the audience singing along, even the 15 year olds which was a little disturbing. A great song is a great song though, and you don’t always have to live the lyrics to appreciate the feeling of it. My heart stopped a little bit when he sang “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” and “Angel Flying to Close to the Ground”.
I can’t even imagine everything this septugenarian has experienced. That isn’t even including the rock-n-roll lifestyle he’s lived. He’s a peace activist and currently owns a portion of a biodiesel plant in Carl, Texas. He’s survived being sued by the IRS for over 15 million dollars in back taxes. He has been married 5 times and currently has children who are in their 40s and their tweens.
The rumor in Austin is that he isn’t well but he looked fine for someone who is 73. He was led onto the stage by a trusted member of his staff. He looked energized and happy as he played continuously through the 90 minute set. At the end he bent down and shook hands with the folks who walked up to the stage – no mean feat for a 70 year old back.
We sat in Section C, Row 12 and they were really good seats. We were close enough to see the performers faces and to appreciate the skilled moves of the musicians as they played. I’ve heard that it is always better to sit center and be a little further back than to sit on the sides and be closer to the stage. It was good to have the opportunity to see if that is a good axiom and it is. The Backyard is a nice, relaxed venue. It’s open air and there are porch seats that overlook the seating and standing areas directly in front of the stage. Wear comfortable shoes as it is a bit of a dusty hike on gravel trails from the parking area to the venue. I was surprised at how quickly the parking area cleared-out. We arrived at 7 pm and missed part of the opening act as we were some of the last people to get there. We sat in traffic for about 30 minutes to get out of the lot which wasn’t bad at all.
It was a good show and I’m glad that I went. I think that I am part-way to being a Texan now that I live in Austin and have seen Willie perform here. What’s that old saying: I wasn’t born here but I got here as fast as I could ? Thanks for a great show, Willie. I wish you the best on your continued travels. Thanks for sharing your memories with me.