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Willie Nelson To Headline Marijuana-Legalization Festival in Austin

August 9, 2007 12:06 PM ET

If you're looking to do a little charity work in your spare time, perhaps you should consider becoming a marijuana-legalization activist. You can start tomorrow, by attending the Austin Freedom Fest, a pot-promoting charity concert organized by (who else) Willie Nelson, a totally authentic rock star who pulled off a collaboration with Jessica Simpson while retaining every ounce of his cool and, of course, got busted for toting around several pounds of drugs. Nelson is headlining the festival, all proceeds from which will benefit four marijuana-policy-reform groups that seek to stop the war on drugs. "I'd like to see it taxed and regulated and looked upon as nothing more or less dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes," Nelson said. The seventy-five-year-old rocker no longer smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol but challenges anyone who claims the pot he's been smoking for fifty years has made him stupid. "I do a two-hour show every night and remember forty or fifty songs," the singer said. "So I challenge anyone out there [to remember them as well as I do]. You might tie it, but I doubt you can beat it."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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