Willie Nelson’s gay song | Culture

Willie Nelson’s gay song | Culture
Willie Nelson’s gay song | Culture

Let’s start with the obvious: at 91, Willie Nelson is still active, as if trying to certify the validity of his hymn to the life of the itinerant musician, On the Road Again. It is true that his body is now betraying him: in recent days, he did not appear at seven dates of his Outlaw Music Festival, where – accompanied by Bob Dylan or the Robert Plant-Alison Kraus couple – he will tour the United States until the end of summer. They resolved these absences by turning to his son Lukas, musical partner of…

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Let’s start with the obvious: at 91, Willie Nelson is still active, as if trying to certify the validity of his hymn to the life of the itinerant musician, On the Road Again. It is true that his body is now betraying him: in recent days, he did not appear at seven dates of his Outlaw Music Festival, where – accompanied by Bob Dylan or the Robert Plant-Alison Kraus couple – he will tour the United States until the end of summer. They resolved these absences by turning to his son Lukas, Neil Young’s musical partner, who replaced him by performing some of the patriarch’s numerous hits.

It is difficult to fit Willie into the European parameters of the committed singer. He does not boast of ideology, but he has been involved in numerous causes that are called progressive there, at least compared to what is usual in the universe of the country; from opposition to the invasion of Iraq to financial support for mortgaged farmers, from biodiesel production to the legalization of marijuana. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that it is the cool America’s best-known: invited to the White House by President Jimmy Carter, he went up to the terrace to surreptitiously smoke a firecrackerThe last time he was arrested for possession, the arresting officer suffered a real public humiliation for his feat: almost the entire country knows that Willie is a consumer of the drug. good herb cannabis and carries his stash on the tour bus.

Other more defining audacities come to mind. In 2005, Nelson recorded Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Othera cheerful waltz that referred to homosexuality among cowboys. In fact, Willie waited to publish it until the success of the film Brokeback Mountainand sweetened the pill with a humorous video, filmed in an authentic gay bar in Dallas.

“Cowboys Often Secretly Love Each Other” was a considerable hit, although—as Nelson predicted—it was not played on the major radio stations. countrywhich function as radio formulas and avoid controversial content, even if it comes from a genuinely legendary artist: it was discussed on an open microphone and the verdict of announcers and listeners was negative. That is why it is brave that Willie has taken up the subject again in 2024, to record a duet with Orville Peck, the first vocalist country openly gay.

Now there has been no debate. The establishment Cowboy music doesn’t want to be a problem for Orville Peck, whose track record is not exactly stellar: born in South Africa, he played in a Canadian punk band, Nü Sensae. And in Nashville, it’s not a funny thing that he performs behind a mask (“Are you saying we’re homophobic?”).

Here I must insert my admiration for the author of the song, Ned Sublette. An instrumentalist established in the avant-garde of lower Manhattan, around 1981 he noticed that in the gay world there were plenty of guys who dressed like the cowboys of the Southwest, where he had grown up. And, boom, he got the idea. Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other. I’m glad Ned makes money from his work (look for his glorious Cowboy rumba). Nowadays, he is dedicated to organizing some very well thought-out trips through regions rich in music (he recently visited Andalusia, exploring flamenco corners). But let’s leave it here: Sublette deserves an article of its own.

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