In these solemn days in Country Music, it lifts my heart to wish Happy Birthday to one of the Unforgettables:
Willie is EIGHTY today.
Those work-worn hands and that knocked-about guitar named Trigger have been part of some of the BEST music in the history of the world.
The Sirius was set on Willie’s Roadhouse as we got in the car to go out for the afternoon, and we left the driveway swirled in George Jones, bless his dear heart. Then as GREAT after GREAT sang and sang---the first leg of the trip included Faron, Webb, Moe, Lefty, Charlie Louvin and Tex Williams---we just floated along on music and memories.
After lunch, we sailed away with Roy Acuff, Charley Pride, Loretty, and Conway. Several stops later, we wound down and wended home with Johnny, Patsy, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Ray Charles (he and Willie both turn GEORGIA into a religious experience), the Browns, Ronnie Millsap, and Vern Gosdin.
What a Birthday Gift to all of us Country Fans---especially the ones of us raised on The Opry and those sublime voices and the sheer poetry of the songs.
On a side note: I hugged Willie once, some thirty years ago---one of the great surprises of my life was that he smelled FABULOUS.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIE. You've always been a gift to us.