Willie Nelson Admits He Feels ‘Lucky’ He Made it Past 21 Years Old

by Jennifer Shea

Willie Nelson has lived an interesting life. And he didn’t expect it to last nearly so long as it has. 

“I didn’t ever think I’d get this old,” the 87-year-old country legend said in a recent interview with Slate. “I always thought I was lucky to make it past 21.”

Willie Nelson Can’t Tour to Promote His New Album

Nelson is preparing to release a new Sinatra tribute album – his second – and he said he learned a lot about being a singer from Ol’ Blue Eyes.

“I learned a lot about phrasing listening to Frank,” Nelson told AARP Magazine in 2018. “He didn’t worry about behind the beat or in front of the beat, or whatever — he could sing it either way, and that’s the feel you have to have.”

But the prolific touring musician hasn’t been able to go on the road to promote his new album. Nelson said the pandemic is unlike anything he’s ever lived through.

“It’s the longest time off the road that I can think of, we’ve ever had to go through before,” he told Slate. “We’ve always been able to play to some audience somewhere.”

New Material Forthcoming

The good news is, the pandemic has afforded him some extra time to write songs. He admits it’s also given way to plenty of introspection, but songwriting provides a release.

“I have written a lot since we’ve been laying around doing nothing,” Nelson said. “All I have time to do is think. So I’ll write something. Who knows if it’s any good but at least I’m getting it off my chest.”

Moreover, he’s been working on a new album. Nelson said he can still do several albums a year, and he could do even more than that if he needed to. 

The new album features Nelson’s family members. No word yet on what songs they’re singing.

“We’re putting together a new album that we’ve been in [the studio] doing the last few months,” he added. “It’s a family album with me and all the kids and everybody singing on it, and it’ll be coming out one of these days. I just enjoy being there and recording.”

Looking back to when he was a kid, Nelson can’t think of anything he might have told his 21-year-old self that would have made an impact. He had to learn some things the hard way. But he said he’s better for it.

“I was still too stubborn to listen to anything or anybody [as a kid], and I’ve had a lot of bruises because of it,” Nelson concluded. “And I’ve lived through it. But I don’t know that if I went back I’d change anything.”