Willie Nelson Speaks Out on National Anthem Kneeling Controversy

by Suzanne Halliburton

Country legend Willie Nelson provided a very Willie answer in regards to kneeling for the national anthem and other hot button social issues rocking the country.

Basically, Nelson said, some folks don’t think like you do. And that’s OK. Live and let live.

“I’ve been asked if I believe people should be allowed to kneel during the national anthem,” Willie Nelson told WSJ magazine (via his recent book “Letters to America”). “Regarding peaceful protests and just about anything else, I believe everyone should do whatever the f— they want to do.”

That shouldn’t be a surprise answer, given that the charm of Willie Nelson and his music is his ability to step away from the mainstream and make it cool.

He’s 88, still rocking his long braids and sporting his red-white-and-blue guitar strap. He’s still pushing for fewer restrictions on smoking marijuana all while making us so happy to sing along to his beautiful music.

Nelson shared more of his views:

“You don’t have to watch sports if you don’t like the players’ personal beliefs,” he said. “You don’t have to attend a gay wedding if you don’t want to (and) you don’t have to buy my music. And I ain’t gonna change the way I think, so you will (buy more of his music). We all make our own decisions. I’m trying to make mine with love.”

Standing or kneeling for the national anthem is an oft-discussed topic that brings out strong passion on both sides of the argument. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling for the anthem during the NFL preseason of 2016 to quietly protest racial inequality. Kaepernick started a trend with athletes in all sports involving athletes of all ages.

Willie Nelson Lives in State That Just Added a Law About National Anthem

Meanwhile, Willie Nelson, who lives outside of Austin, Texas, resides in a state that’s made the anthem part of its law.

The Texas Legislature passed a bill last month called The Star Spangled Banner Act or SB 4. The law will require pro sports teams in Texas to play the national anthem if the franchises take state money. The law was in reaction to a move made by the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA regular season.

The Mavericks were playing games, but at the time, there were few fans in attendance because of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Mavs owner Mark Cuban said it was OK not to play the anthem. But as fans began attending, the Mavericks started playing the anthem. The NBA, since then, made it mandatory.

In the same interview with WSJ magazine, Willie Nelson was asked what he thinks his legacy will be. And again, he gave a very Willie kind of response.

“Time will let you know how good you were,” Nelson said.

“And if you’re still around and still active when you’re 88 years old, ” he said, “you got to be kind of proud of what you did. And I am.”

Willie Nelson still is quite active at 88. He’ll start touring again in August. First stop is Austin.