Elvis may no longer be everywhere, but Willie Nelson certainly seems to be. And, as he sings in “It Get Easier,” a fetching ballad from his upcoming new album: “I don’t have to do one damn thing that I don’t want to.”
Then again, this tireless American music giant has been doing exactly what he wants ever since he helped pioneer country-music’s outlaw movement in the early 1970s. That was also the decade when Elvis recorded Nelson’s tender ballad, “Always On My Mind.”
His latest album, the slyly titled “God’s Problem Child,” is due out April 28. His next tour begins Friday in Texas and concludes June 17 in Kansas City. It includes a sold-out San Diego show Wednesday at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay and an April 29 performance at the annual Stagecoach festival in Indio.
On July 1, just two weeks after his tour wraps up, Nelson is heading on the road again. This time he’ll be headlining his recently announced Outlaw Music Festival tour, a six-city trek that will also feature Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, The Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Margo Price and more.
The lineup also includes Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. The group, which also tours as Neil Young’s backing band, features Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Mikah.
Both of them perform on “God’s Problem Child,” their famous father’s fourth new album in the past 22 months. It includes a touching tribute to fellow country-music pioneer Merle Haggard, the album-closing “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.”
But Nelson, who turns 84 on April 29, has plenty more on his plate, be it his ongoing SiriusXM radio show, “Willie’s Roadhouse,” or his year-old line of cannabis products, Willie’s Reserve.
His pot line’s marketing slogan — “My stash is your stash” — seems custom-made for Nelson. A longtime proponent of pot, he is co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Recalling the time he visited Nelson’s tour bus, former NFL running back (and San Diego native) Ricky Williams told HBO: “It was embarrassing. He smoked me under the bus… I was crawling off the bus.”
Fellow proponents are quick to cite Nelson’s many pro-pot statements, which include: “I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?”
Not coincidentally, the title of Nelson’s memoir is “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” which in 2012 made the New York Times Best Sellers list. In 2014, the day before his 81st birthday, Nelson earned his black belt in a Korean martial art called GongKwon Yusul.
Nelson’s mythical status as an American icon has long been a matter of record for this Texas-born father of eight. He rose to prominence…