New album, book, SXSW keynote, more

Willie Nelson's first SXSW keynote is set for Wednesday.

“It’s been exactly a year that I haven’t done anything, been anywhere.”

It’s almost impossible to fathom this quote coming from Willie Nelson, who’s done everything and been everywhere for the better part of his nine decades on the planet. But pandemics have no exceptions for living legends, which means the man who wrote “On the Road Again” has been off the road since March 4, 2020.

“We played the Houston Rodeo,” Willie says, bittersweetly recalling the last full gig he played with his band before the coronavirus pandemic took over the world. “We had 80,000 people there. It was one of the best shows of the year. I remember it well.”

Speaking by phone from Luck, Texas, the sprawling horse ranch about an hour west of Austin that has been his home base for decades, Willie is in good spirits on a late February afternoon. (It’s about an hour past 4:20, for what that’s worth.)

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