An Interview With Willie Nelson at 87: “I Didn’t Ever Think I’d Get This Old”
As part of Slate’s project on the 80 most influential Americans over 80, we spoke to some members of the list to reflect on aging, work, and life in their ninth decade and beyond. Willie Nelson, 87, is an iconic singer-songwriter and one of the originators of outlaw country music. His latest album, First Rose of Spring, is his 70th; his 71st, the Frank Sinatra tribute That’s Life, will be released in February. Slate spoke with Nelson by phone last week. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Jonathan L. Fischer: A lot of your songs that I love have the feeling of being sung by an old soul. Your outlaw country years, even before then—it sounded like it’d been done by someone who’d lived a lot. When you were younger, what did you think about being old? And now that you’re older, what do you understand about being young?