90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Willie Nelson

The one and only Willie Nelson joins us, for a little music and tales of Willie Nelson on the road.

Willie Nelson performs during the Farm Aid 2012 concert at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP)

Willie Nelson performs during the Farm Aid 2012 concert at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP)

Willie Nelson picked cotton as a boy and sold encyclopedias as a young man.  Wrote hits in Nashville before most Americans were born.  Hit the road as the pig-tailed, Red Headed Stranger in middle age, and just kept rolling.  With his own sound, his own way.

Now he’s thinking big.  The great beyond and what remains.  His latest is Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.

This hour, On Point:  Willie Nelson.

-Tom Ashbrook


Willie Nelson, country music singer-songwriter, his new book is Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road. His most recent album is Heroes.

From Tom’s Reading List

American Songwriter “With a twinkle in his eyes, a laugh in his belly, a sagacious nod, and a deep love for life, Nelson takes us for a rollicking ride along the highways and byways of his long life and career in this rambunctious, hilarious, reflective, and loving memoir. With his rapscallion smile, Nelson regales us with tales of life on the road, his life in Maui, his early years in Texas—he was smoking and drinking by the time he was six—his love of dominoes—he plays with Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson in Maui—and golf, his deep and abiding love for his family, and his deep respect and enduring admiration for the songwriters and musicians with whom he has performed and who have influenced him, from Ray Price and Leon Russell to Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.”

Boston Globe “Abbott, Texas, and Maui, Hawaii, are separated by more than miles, as the former is a tiny central Texas hamlet with a population less than 500 and the latter a tropical paradise visited by more than 2 million tourists annually.”


Check out an excerpt of Nelson’s new book.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • sondela

    I would like to ask if Tom will do a show on Friday, Nov. 30 for World AIDS Day, December 1. Film and fundraiser for Nyaka School in Uganda.

    “Living with Slim: Kids Talk About HIV/AIDS” with filmmaker, Sam
    Kauffmann from Boston University who will discuss making the film and his
    personal experience with the seven children interviewed and their families and Dr.
    Chilume from Whittier Street Health Center and HIV specialist.


    Fundraiser for the Nyaka School in Uganda. The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project is working to free orphans
    from the cycle of poverty by providing a high-quality, free education, both
    formal and informal, to children who have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.
    Jackson Kaguri, Founder and Director, was nominated for CNN Heroes Award of
    2012. He wrote a book about building the school, “A School for My Village.”


    Thank you so much. I can be
    reached at 617-930-4740.

    • DrewInGeorgia


      • sondela

         You can’t e-mail This is On Point e-mail. That’s my point. Read for your self on the On Point Page.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          onpointnpr@gmail.com or @onpointradio on Twitter. I understand what you’re saying though. It would greatly benefit both On Point listeners and staff if there were a static link in the sidebar for show recommendations. People could post ideas for future topics in the comment area and then others could vote using the like feature. Just a thought.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Relevance to this hour?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        My sentiments exactly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=689955919 Brian Roskow

    willy, do you feel like you may have been instrumental in newer legislation on marijuana’s legalization, whether medical or recreational?

    brian in jamaica plain, MA

  • DrewInGeorgia

    I’ve always thought of Mr. Nelson’s work more as Folk music than Country. I don’t do Country and Western but I do enjoy hearing a Good Willie tune every now and then. Please ask Mr. Nelson what he thinks about Colorado and Washington State’s recent changes in legislation regarding marijuana.

    Drew In Georgia

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    When is Willie Nelson running for president?  I’m liking his live-and-let-live attitude.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001908812793 Pat Travell

    Did Willy watch the music awards show last night ?  if so what did he think???   I am amazed at how poor the lyrics are in the current music, often one word is repeated “forever” or, one has no idea what on earth they are singing about.  Give me music I can sing along to a la Willy Nelson or Frank Sinatra!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/garret.woodward Garret K. Woodward

    WILLIE! Your son Lukas is becoming a rising presence in the national music scene, what advice are you giving him going into the industry and what’s it like to perform alongside him and watch him grow into his own artist?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Pop music fails by trying to be everything to everyone.  Nelson, by contrast, is being himself.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMPSB4GNBMQUHSLHW3BSN7N6OU yahoo-QMPSB4GNBMQUHSLHW3BSN7N6OU

    We live in Kingston Springs, just west of Nashville, Tennessee.  There is a house on Main Street that is rumored to have been rented by Eddie Rabbitt and others where Willie, Kris Kristofferson, Shel Silverstein, Johnny Cash and many others would hang out and write.  Wondering if Willie can confirm this?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

    every style of country music today derives from this guy… Willie Nelson.. in fact many of these folks mimic Willie Nelson.

  • Scott B

    I want to know what Willy hopes someone would experience if someone did roll him up and smoke him when he dies?

  • JPW_of_Lawrence

    Way back in mid-’70s I was ride-sharing into LA with a co-worker. We couldn’t find much to talk about, so she asked if I liked Willie Nelson.  I replied “I don’t listen to Country Music”.  “That’s because you haven’t heard Willie Nelson”.  She introduced me to “Blue Eyes Shining in the Rain” and to Waylon, Willie & the Boys. The ride-sharing didn’t last, but my love of Country has.  As well as my gratitude to the driver for waking me up.  (I suspect she & I had more in common than smug little me was willing to admit)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=520780821 Colleen Brannen

    I’m a Texan living in Boston. I came up here for grad school 18 years ago and never left – though I still feel my Texas roots are part of me and my children’s as well. I remember fondly my family’s long car drives to our farm in East Texas listening to Red Headed Stranger. My father died 15 years ago and listening to the album today (which I do often) makes me think of him, of Texas, and those joyful drives. Thank you

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Tom Ashbrook–did you just miss the 4:20 reference?

  • KathleenMM

    My mother-in-law, Catherine, loved Willie Nelson very much.  She passed away this week.  Along with other special mementos, she was buried with her “Willie Nelson Fan Club card” and a picture of Willie.  He brought great joy to her life.  Thank you, Willie!

  • Jrathbun

    This hour really reminded me of why I love Willie Nelson.  Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/roy.nilson.9 Roy Nilson

    Thank you for the most beautiful hour of radio I have heard in many years. Willie Nelson may be our last American hero. His humility sets an example that all of us should follow. I stopped what I was doing and listened to every word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimhfoster Jim Foster

    Willie Nelson is just great. I’ve been listening to him since the very early 80s, when I became a serious fan of country music. There are a couple of other country artists that I might like better, like Merle Haggard and Alan Jackson. But, Willie is like my favorite old shoe. He wears well and I never get tired of him. His song “Crazy” is my nominee for best song of all time, in any genre.

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Why Facebook And Twitter Had Different Priorities This Week
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

There’s no hidden agenda to the difference between most people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds this week. Just a hidden type of emotional content and case use. Digiday’s John McDermott explains.

More »
Our Week In The Web: August 22, 2014
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

On mixed media messaging, Spotify serendipity and a view of Earth from the International Space Station.

More »
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

More »