The Country Icon: Willie Nelson

“When I’m driving the highway by myself is when I write best.”

Willie Nelson is America’s lovable, poetic, prophetic, country-music playing, activist great uncle. Almost comically laid-back, Nelson has been producing music for over fifty years, migrating from Nashville-country to “outlaw” country to reggae and back again, always with his signature graveled delivery. Songs like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and Nelson’s cover of “Always on My Mind” are recognized as high points in the popular music canon. Still, especially in the last decade, Willie Nelson has become more widely known for his consistent and impassioned activism on behalf of causes like LGBT rights, marijuana legalization, animal rights, and environmentally-friendly bio-diesel. We salute country music’s grizzled, shroom-enthusiast as the American icon he truly is. 

Photos by David Gahr / Getty Images