PDT Outdoors Columnist
The Tao of Willie is a book that my first baby gave to me several years ago. My daughter Amy gave me this book probably because she thinks Willie is what she always hears in my trucks. Amy is a communications major and a very sensitive, thoughtful person, so some deep thought went into this gift. As it turns out it has been very informative and thought provoking for me.
Is it just me, a product of the sixties, who went from Beatles, C.C.R., and 3 Dog Night to Cash, Willie, Waylon, and Kristofferson in the seventies and eighties, or did most first see Willie as a Highwayman and Outlaw country? These were the original “Men in Black” in my estimation. As a kid, I think they showed us a sense of having the highway and my way. Their songs were a lot about anti-Big Brother and rebellion.
I think most of us from the sixties were influenced by the protests, sit-ins, and demonstrations that were going on then. We may have thought we were conservative and not dressed or doing as the “Hippies,” but with all that controversy comes some provocation of thought. I’m not saying they were totally right, but I think they made most of us aware of things around us and within us. Maybe there’s more Bob Dylan in us all than we care to admit.
Let’s get back to “Booger Red.” That’s what they used to call him in Abbot, Texas, as a kid. His parents, a guitar picker, and a dancer divorced when he was 6 months old and decided that Mama and Papa Nelson (his dad’s parents) could provide the stability and home that Willie and his sister Bobbie needed. They were raised poor, but they had love. They picked cotton, and picked music in the Methodist Church. Willie gives credit to Bobbie as the one who learned and could read music early on, as he sort of picked and grinned by ear. His first guitar was a Stella from the Sears and Roebuck catalog.
Willie grew up on Earnest Tubb and “I’ll Fly Away,” and he dreamed of flying away from Abbot, Texas. When he left, he bounced around and landed in Nashville. He went through alcohol and marriages there but he became known as a very accomplished song writer. Before we ever heard of a Willie Nelson singer, he wrote “Hello Walls” for Faron Young, “Funny How Time Slips Away” for Billy Walker, and “Crazy” for Patsy Cline. He toured with Ray Price and his band. Willie was trying writing, touring, and having a pig farm outside of Nashville. Being his own man, and doing it his way was a very hard row to hoe at this point.
Willis’s first wife, Martha, was a full-blooded Cherokee and he refers to every night at our house as “Custer’s Last Stand.” He recalls waking up, tied up, in telephone cord. No, times weren’t easy for the red-headed stranger then, but he never lost sight of his dreams. His book is full of the Tao that he truly believes. It’s all about songs, having a song in your heart, dreams, and following your dreams. As Willie tours in “Honeysuckle Rose” his tour bus, he promotes good will, golden rule, Tao, and Farm Aid. Willie and his book are full of jokes. He is always telling jokes.
I urge you to read this book, for it will enlighten you as to where this country music icon is from and what he is about. He shows you that in his search for happiness, he feels that his whole life changed when he started counting his blessings. When he found happiness, he found himself. Isn’t this about as simple as it gets in life? When you find yourself you find happiness. You don’t have to travel that far, but you might have to dig a little deeper. Read the book and find yourself – be happy.
In The Tao of Willie you will find a light-hearted, uplifting approach to finding happiness in a song, and within yourself. It’s written by a guy that started and ended in Texas and didn’t miss seeing the world. As a toddler, he wandered so much they staked him out in the back yard like a goat. He was prone to wander, but no matter where his butt was, his heart was always at home. “Happiness is within yourself,” The Tao pf Willie. It doesn’t have to be “Nightlife,” “Whiskey River,” “The Party’s Over” or “Crazy.” It could be “Blue Skies,” “Stay a Little Longer,” “On the Road Again,” or “Uncloudy Day.”
When in doubt, ask yourself. You wouldn’t mislead you, would you? If you’re still not convinced, give an ear to “All of Me,” “Nothing I Can Do About It Now,” “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Always on My Mind.” It’s never too late to find yourself and/or happiness. Essentially this is Willie’s philosophy and it will work for you.
What does all this Tao of Willie have to do with landscaping? I truly believe that it’s this positive and appreciative approach that I’ve used in landscape design, bidding, and installation down through the years that makes it happen. I try to preach and practice the Willie Ways in my everyday lifestyle. Life is too short not to.
Dudley Wooten can be reached at 740-820-8210 or by visiting wootenslandscaping.com.