Willie Nelson turned 80 on April 30th. Some people know him better as 'the Red Headed Stranger'. I won't waste time talking about Willie's musical achievements as we all know how monumentally important Willie has been to the world of music. He has this ability to capture the hearts of all types of people. Young or old, urban or rural, cowboys or rockers; it doesn't seem to matter. The love we have for him seems universal. So I think I will focus on that for a moment. As many may know by now, I used to spend my winters on the north shore of Maui. And many of you may also know that Willie Nelson does too. He has a house down by the water and is seen fairly frequently strolling through the lush landscapes of the north side of the island. He would occasionally play a spontaneous show at the local watering hole. Few are lucky enough to make it into the small space, but like most Hawaiian architecture, the windows are mostly slatted glass and kept open. Crowds of us would gather into the parking lot with our whiskey tucked into brown paper sacks. We would howl and sing to the moon, dance, and laugh. Willie would turn towards the parking lot crowd for a song at a time, playing just to us. It was warm, the feeling was pure happiness and love. Awwww...I can transport myself back there in an instant. 
I worked at this adorable cafe right on the main street of that same tiny beach town. We made various crepes and curries. It was, and remains, one of the most popular restaurants on that side of the island. Willie would stop in with his wife or his son pretty regularly. His hair in perfect braids, bandana folded neatly across his brow, and his socks pulled up to just below his knees. A celebrity was nothing out of the ordinary there. It's Hawaii after all. But let me tell you something. Willie Nelson is one of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of interacting with. He is gracious and kind. And that is what makes him extra special. He has the talent and the drive. But he has a humanity and humility that makes him someone worth caring about for all these years. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you sir. You are a gift. A gift to music and a gift to mankind. 

 The Rainbow Connection ⋙ Willie Nelson 

Georgia on My Mind ⋙ Ray Charles
Overtime ⋙ Lucinda Williams
All of Me ⋙ Billie Holiday
Move It On Over ⋙ Hank Williams
I'm A Fool to Care ⋙ Les Paul & Mary Ford
Milk Cow Blues ⋙ Kokomo Arnold
Heart of Gold ⋙ Neil Young
Just Breathe ⋙ Pearl Jam
Bird on a Wire ⋙ Leonard Cohen
A Whiter Shade of Pale ⋙ Procol Harum
Me and Bobby McGee ⋙ Kris Kristofferson
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter ⋙ Frank Sinatra
Just Dropped In ⋙ Kenny Rogers & The First Edition