The Night I Met the Red Headed Stranger 

I remember getting picked up after elementary school most days by my grandmother. She took care of me a lot and she was the one who first introduced me to country music at an early age. My first recollection of the radio was Alabama's "Roll On 18 Wheeler" and Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again."  

About a year and a half ago, I got a call from Bart Herbison at NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), and he told me that I was being asked to serve on the Board of Directors for the organization. For over 40 years, NSAI has been protecting the rights and serving the American songwriter in all genres of music, and I had been a part of several trips to D.C. in the past, so being asked to serve on the board felt like a huge honor. Near the end of last year, the all-songwriter board envisioned introducing a new lifetime achievement award for songwriters named after one of NSAI's founding members: Kris Kristofferson. It became a reality last week. Kristofferson chose to give the inaugural "Kris Kristofferson Award" to one of his fellow Highway Men, and one of my musical heroes, Willie Nelson. The amount of hits both of these men have penned for themselves and other artists boggles the mind. I mean, let's face it, there isn't a chick singer on this planet that hasn't sung "Me and Bobby McGee" or "Crazy" on a cover gig. She just doesn't exist.  

I've been in town 14 years now, and last Monday night was probably the best night I've ever had in Nashville. I was at the Bluebird Cafe with board members and close family friends of the heroes, and maybe 15 feet away from Willie Nelson playing "Crazy" on that same beautiful, beat up, ol' guitar I always see in pictures. My heart felt like it was going to burst wide open. Kristofferson played "Sunday Morning Coming Down," introduced Willie Nelson, and spoke of his incredible talent, wisdom, and unique style. One of my favorite quotes of the night is when he said, "Sometimes I try to envision what God might look like, and he always comes out lookin' like Willie!"

I got a chance to shake Willie's hand and we all got quick pictures with Kris Kristofferson, but they have yet to arrive, so for now, my crappy iPhone pictures will have to do. I want to leave y'all with one of my favorite lyrics from Kristofferson's "Beat the Devil," because they ring so true, not just for songwriters and singers, but for everyone who has ever had the courage to create something out of nothing -- a song, a picture, an invention, a great business idea -- and believe in it come hell or high water:

"And you still can hear me singin' to the people who don't listen,
To the things that I am sayin', prayin' someone's gonna hear.
And I guess I'll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin', hopin' someone's gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer, and I'm bound to die the same,
But I've got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickel, I won't ever die ashamed.
'Cause I don't believe that no one wants to know."



P.S. I think it would be awesome if God turns out to have a face (and long braids?!) and looks like Willie Nelson.

P.P.S. Go 49ers!

1 Comment

  • marc


    very impressive lauren. just to hear willie,kris sing in the same night had to be thrilling !!!!!
    very impressive lauren. just to hear willie,kris sing in the same night had to be thrilling !!!!!