Open Letter to Willie Nelson
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 by Frank Shortt
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Dear Willie Nelson,
          I have listened to your singing since I was a young man. In fact, you were my Mother’s favorite singer, and she was one of those old right-wing religious fanatics. She wore long dresses all her life, not because she was forced to do it, but because it was her conviction, and because she liked dresses. She died of severe congestive heart failure. This is where too much liquid surrounds the heart.
        Yet, she did a great job of raising ten old right-wing religious fanatics. She never smoked a joint of pot in her life, although at an early age she began smoking cigarettes. She rolled her own from a Prince Albert can sometimes using a brown paper bag for her papers. She quit when that old right-wing fanatical supreme-being spoke to her heart one day. She was a very brave woman who had her own demons to contend with. Yes, Willie, I did say demons!
        Mom was sixteen when she had her first child. Dad was a logger then and later became a coal miner/hillside farmer. Mom later had nine other children and had two miscarriages, which in today’s Atmosphere, would have caused her to turn to pot smoking, or something worse. I’m sure she must have suffered many days of post-partum as she had some of her children less than fifteen months apart. Dad was almost afraid to come home and ask, “What’s new?”!
        No, Willie, she braved it out. She did not have the fears that some of you performers have. The fears, that cause you to try to be funny, like the little boy whistling as he walks through the graveyard. Some of you think that Life is just one big joke.
        When these ‘fears’ overcome a person, they turn to whatever will ease the pain. Like the man who wrote ‘Goodtime Charlie’s got the Blues’, “I’ve got my pills to ease the pain”! I am sure that you have been in this fix many times, Willie.
        But, getting back to mom, I think she had a lot more to put up with than you ever will, Willie. She had to put up with nine-hundred and sixty-nine different Protestant religious organizations, each of them telling her that they were the right brand to smoke. They each needed a little offering to keep them on the air. She also had ten squally children pulling at those old long dresses the biggest part of the day. She used a good hickory stick to keep us in line. Only one of us ever spent a night in jail, and I suppose it was because he got caught drinking alcohol in public or smoking a little weed. Virginia frowns upon that type of behavior, or did, at the time that my brother was arrested. The rest of us were content to just be those old right-wing religious fanatics that have glued America together all these years. They do not knock you personally, Willie, so why should you knock them? We pay our taxes!
        According to your photo that was shown on the internet, I am sure that you were not in your right-thinking capabilities when you knocked those old right-wing religious fanatics. You had probably just emerged from your restroom with the heavy, thick fog of Marijuana trailing you. In a less pot-influenced moment you would probably remember that your family had some of those old right-wing religious fanatics who held the family together with their right living, paying taxes, or working a job, whether or not it paid very well. They did not turn down any opportunity to make an honest dollar.
        You and I had similar beginnings. We both began our singing in churches, influenced by the wonderful singers in the Pentecostal and Baptist organizations. We both were raised poor. As Brother Dave Gardner used to say, “We didn’t have any food, so we didn’t eat!” We have both known some lean times, when in the Service of our country, and since. We are both of English/Irish/Cherokee lineage. But, there is one thing we don’t agree on, that we have to be in a state of intoxication before we can truly exist. The question that I would like to ask is, when the Creator made each of us, did He use any type of narcotic as part of our body make-up? I cannot, for the life of me, find that in any medical book, anywhere. So why do we add these things to our bodies?
        I do not fight the legalization of Marijuana. I am sure that as soon as it is financially feasible for some politician to legalize it, it will be legalized. As Ferlin Husky used to sing, “Love may keep the whole world turning, but money greases the wheel!”
        So, Willie, I leave you with one thought! Does knocking those old right-wing religious fanatics put food on your table? Does it prolong your life? Or, are you just trying to be funny? Where does it all end, Willie?
        You probably will never see this letter. I hope you do, but someday, I am sure that you will answer these questions, whether this side of ‘Ole Jordan’ or on the other side.
        Keep a stiff upper lip. Keep on singing. Play “Old Trigger” until the last string falls off, but most of all, remember us old right-wing religious fanatics once in a great while.
This church don’t like that church,
“They are too starchy,” they say.
“You are too far to the right,”
I heard another one to bray!
“You do not comb your hair right,”
One Christian told another.
“Your husband looked at me wrong,
Therefore he’s not my brother.”
It is time we looked within
To check upon our own self
The right wing and the left wing
Should lay doctrines on the shelf.
The same thing goes for Willie
While he’s plucking out our mote,
There’s a large beam in his eye,
That’s real hard for him to tote.