At 82 years old, Willie Nelson is still a remarkably active performer. Even so, the country icon — who scored a Number One album in 2015 with his Merle Haggard collaboration Django and Jimmie — isn’t immune to the kinds of lingering maladies that accompany a well-examined life.
Recently Nelson revealed to the Washington Post that he had undergone a stem-cell operation to improve his lung health.
“Over the years I’ve smoked a lot of cigarettes, and I’ve had emphysema and pneumonia four or five times, so my lungs were really screwed up, and I had heard that this stem-cell operation would be good for them,” he said. At the time of the interview (which was published November 12th), Nelson was still dealing with soreness from the procedure and had been “laid up” for two weeks.
A rep for Nelson confirmed that his recovery from the procedure was the reason he was forced to reschedule the opening dates of his Django and Jimmie Tour with Haggard. Originally set for October 15th, the brief trek actually started on October 21st. While Nelson presently has numerous live dates on his calendar, he won’t reunite with Haggard until April 15th when the long-time friends host a three-night stand at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas.
In other Nelson news, he became the first country artist bestowed with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in a ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., yesterday. On hand to pay tribute to Nelson’s contributions to the American songbook were Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson and Rosanne Cash, among numerous other musical and political figures.