Breitbart is reporting that Willie Nelson will be crooning at the Republicans’ national séance in Tampa later this month. Great singer, but a strange selection for the GOP.
Willie is a versatile stylist with a well-deserved reputation for connecting with his audiences (I caught the magic one night in the late eighties at a concert in Lakeland, Florida). But while Willie is a musical genius, he’s a political ignoramus. His politics are straight left-populist, made even gauzier by smoke from the weed Willie would like to see made legal. So how well will he connect with the junior bankers, car dealers, marketing majors, and hedge funds managers that will make up a fair fraction of the Republican delegates? It’s hard to imagine Mitt Romney and Willie sharing a drink and a moment. Less likely things have happened. But it would take a while to think of one.
And was Willie chosen because other talented and more conservative country artists — Trace Adkins, Toby Keith, Reba McIntire, George Strait, et al. — did not return the RNC’s phone calls?
Not that Willie isn’t a great entertainer. He’s one of the best, and not just with country classics. He can put life and feeling into any kind of song. His renditions of “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Crazy” (which Willie wrote in 1962 for the likes of Patsy Cine and others before Willie was known as a singer), and “Night Life” will always thrill country music purists. Who wouldn’t feel better after hearing “On the Road Again” or Willie’s version of “City of New Orleans”? Willie’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is the best grab-ass, slow dancing song in the history of the world.
On top of all this country gold, Willie recorded one of the best renditions of “Moonlight in Vermont” I’ve ever heard, as well as a cheery take of “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” Hoagy Carmichael wrote “Georgia on My Mind” just for Ray Charles and Willie Nelson. And Willie’s gospel renditions — “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Amazing Grace” — have had the most devout taping their toes and in the presence of a loving and upbeat God (one who is not as opposed to happy hour as is thought to be the case in some circles).
OK, re-reading my previous paragraph, maybe Willie wasn’t such a strange pick after all. Let’s just hope the hedge fund managers get it, that Willie isn’t too put off by all the grousing about un-funded mandates, and that Tampa PD doesn’t decide to raid Willie’s dressing room.
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