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Photo By Gary Miller

Picnic Basket

Talking to Willie Nelson must be a lot like talking to the pope, except His Holiness probably doesn't tell blonde jokes. Some more words of wisdom from Texas' No. 1 candidate for sainthood:

TCB: What do you think of when you think of Texas?

Willie Nelson: Freedom. Don't ask me where it went. We used to have some. They still keep trying to take it away, but some of us are not going for it.

TCB: How do you keep cool at your Fourth of July picnics?

WN: Drink a lot of water ... or something. I try to find something.

TCB: How did you celebrate the Fourth of July when you were a kid?

WN: I grew up in Abbott, and it was a small town. There wasn't a lot to do there anyway. But on the Fourth of July, hopefully, we could find something to do. It wasn't that easy. We didn't have a lot of picnics in Abbott. Too many ants.

TCB: How much do you miss Waylon?

WN: Oh, I miss him a lot. He and I probably got along in some ways better than any two people I know, because we allowed each other to fuss and fight and cuss. Anything I did that he didn't like, I didn't care if he said anything about it, and if I didn't like something he was doing, I felt free to say something. A lot of people thought we had a feud going, but we were just being Willie and Waylon. Friends argue and fight or else they're not real friends.

TCB: What's the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?

WN: I had an ex-father-in-law who used to say, "Take my advice, and do what you want to." I thought that was probably as good advice as I've ever heard.

TCB: What's your golf handicap?

WN: I lie so much. You just can't believe anything I tell you. But I don't really know. I'm not good, so I have to lie a little bit and try to act like I'm better than I am.

TCB: Whatever happened to your reggae album?

WN: I'm glad you asked. I thought it was all over, so I quit talking about it. Every now and then somebody resurrects it, so now I think it's back in the pipeline to come out. I heard it; it's really good. I hope someday it does come out.

TCB: What's a good joke you've heard recently?

WN: You know what you get when you turn a blonde upside down?

TCB: What?

WN: A brunette with bad breath.

TCB: Your music has had such a profound impact on so many people. How do you deal with being a legend on a day-to-day basis?

WN: I haven't run into any problems. So far it's been fun. No complaints at all. I like this legend business.

TCB: Is it true that when people in Texas die, they get to go to your house?

WN: Yeah, if they're real good.

Willie's 4th of July Picnic is Friday and Saturday at the Two River Canyon Amphitheatre in Spicewood. If you don't have tickets by now, 888/597-STAR, you should probably be in France. For info: www.tworivercanyon.com, or call 263-4146.

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Christopher Gray, June 29, 2007

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