College Students Shocked Pot Icon Willie Nelson Plays Music

November 19, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  9 Comments

Willie Nelson just released his latest memoir Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die, and many college students that grew up in an era when Willie’s songs were virtually nowhere to be found on the radio, are shocked to read that Willie Nelson is a musician, and an influential one at that. To them he’s only known as one of America’s most notorious pot heads.

“Yeah, I mean they dedicated a statue to him this spring here in downtown Austin, and they did it on 4/20, at 4:20 PM,” explains University of Texas Senior Cindy Smithstein. “I mean like I remember that happening, and everybody knows what 420 means. So why would they do that if they didn’t want him remembered for pot? And then I bought this book because I think Willie is totally this cool old dude and I was totally blown away. I was like ‘Dude, Willie Nelson was a big time musician a long time ago and like actually sold millions of records.’ I’m just like ‘Whoa!'”

And it’s not just college students in Willie’s home state of Texas that are floored when finding out about Willie’s musical past. The phenomenon stretches all across the country.

“Dude, I had no idea!” says sophomore student John Arbinger from Florida State. “I mean like I knew he hung out with musicians and stuff. Like I knew he liked smoking reefer with Snoop Dogg and had a song with Snoop called ‘Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die’ but I thought that was like Justin Timberlake doing ‘Dick In A Box’ with Andy Samberg from SNL. I mean Andy Samberg isn’t a musician or anything. That was just for fun.”

A poll taken by the Pew Research Center found that over 80% of American college students associated Willie Nelson with weed over music. And 92% of them had no idea what Red Headed Stranger was–Willie’s 1975 magnum opus that many country music critics believe to be the greatest country music album of all time.

“Yeah, I’ve seen ‘Red Headed Stranger’, but Willie Nelson wasn’t in it,” snickered Fresno State sophomore Charles Frankenfurter, apparently referencing a pornographic movie of the same name. “I don’t care what anybody says, Willie Nelson will always be this badass old dude who stuck it to the man by smoking pot and not caring what anybody thought about it. I don’t like country music anyway. All it is is a bunch of rednecks screaming about driving their pickup trucks down backroads and drinking beer. Who wants to listen to that?”

Willie Nelson seems to be fine with his pot publicity, if not encouraging of it. Along with the title of his new memoir and the recent duet with Snoop Dogg, he also wanted to name his last album “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die” before being compelled by his label to go with the more benign title, Heroes.

Willie Nelson’s nug jar could not be reached for comment.

9 Comments to “College Students Shocked Pot Icon Willie Nelson Plays Music”

  • Actually, Andy has put out two albums of music. Just trying to keep you on your toes Trig.


  • i read Willie was a casual social smoker until he met Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem.


  • Come on, you should have mentioned Washington State and Colorado! Those two states will announce an official holiday on Willie Nelson’s birthday anytime now!


  • “I don’t like country music anyway. All it is is a bunch of rednecks screaming about driving their pickup trucks down backroads and drinking beer. Who wants to listen to that?”

    LOL! Some 15-20 years ago I might have considered that an unfair stereotype, but today that’s almost right on the money (at least on country radio).


  • I will state first that I am not turning this into a Hank 3 issue and that you are his biggest fan as it isnt so much about the people but the issues they support.

    You have poked fun of Willie from time to time for his pro marijuana stance and how he is associated with it more and more. Hell, everyone has for a quick joke. I ask you though how is it any different than you covering Hank and his issue with humane shelters? Hank has written songs about his dogs, had them on actual tracks and you have given him great coverage for his beliefs that are close to him. For Willie though you rag on him for an issue that is close to him and something he feels should be brought to the social consciousness. Is it strictly that you feel that humane treatment of animals and shelter is something you feel strongly for and support so you post about Hank doing great causes for it? Is it that you think trying to legalize weed is just dumb? ( I am very much not pro marijuana so I am not trying to convince you that is should be or anything) I am just trying to foster discussion about how one subject close to an artists heart is worthy of praise while another is worthy of laughing at.

    Again, I am not trying to say it is a Hank thing and you love him or anything, but you havent really covered anyone else and their issues they raise awareness to, and I am not trying to stir up trouble, just wanted to have a discussion about it.


    • I actually think that not only is Willie Nelson’s typecasting as one of America’s biggest potheads a reduction of his musical accomplishments, but a reduction of his accomplishments in marijuana advocacy. I think popular culture’s use of him as a pot punchline overshadows that.

      “what I am concerned with is that Willie’s weed identity is trumping, if not marginalizing the other accomplishments of one of our country’s elder statesmen, including his marijuana advocacy work.

      I’m not laughing at Willie. I’m trying to use sarcasm as a way to illustrate what a travesty it is that a man that has done so much for music, for peace, for farmers, and for the legalization world is just seen as some old crusty reefer smoker by many who’ve never been exposed to his music. Maybe I’m over-reacting, I’ll certainly admit to that. But Willie is so much more than a simple “pothead”. Let’s show a little more respect. And yes, that includes Willie showing a little more respect for himself.


      • Interesting that you say Willie should respect himself a little more. I agree with you on that, he doesnt seem to care about his legacy or reputation and can take some pretty weird gigs that can tarnish it. I also think it is pretty awesome of him though to not get caught up in the legacy and trying to preserve it and monopolize on it. Look at how Cash exploded in popular country after he passed away because his estate started pushing him as this huge thing and started having his shirts put in Hot Topics, his posters everywhere, having huge hollywood stars be in a biopic about it all for the money the estate would make. It is nice to see someone that was so monumental in this genre (and in American music history) not try and push it strictly for the money.


  • Article cracked me up.

    I often wonder though, if Willie hasn’t enjoyed his favorite herb a little too much when I see live performances he’s done in the past decade or so. He was still doing amazing live work all the way through the 90s and into the early 2000s, but anything I’ve seen after that shows him struggling to maintain rythym and sometimes forgetting words to songs he’s sung for decades. I remember in particular a live performance he did with Lee Ann Womack in a duet, poor girl didn’t know what to do with the way Willie was all over the place rythymically.


    • Willie has always had a weird, offbeat cadence to his lyrics. But in recent years, it’s almost like he’s becoming a caricature of himself with it. It also makes him a horrible duet partner because he’s impossible to sing in unison with. Apparently he also NEVER practices, for any reason.


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