Music icon and Country Music Hall of Famer Willie Nelson sat down to talk first-time experiences for Rolling Stone, tracking his long and storied career by touching on everything from writing songs and braiding hair, to his singular love of marijuana.
Watch: Willie Nelson chats with Rolling Stone
“I’ve been smoking something ever since I can remember”, he recalls. “I grew up smoking cedar bark, grapevines, and then somewhere along the line Bull Durham cigarettes came – that’s where I learned to roll pretty good.”
That’s probably why Willie Nelson is known as America’s most legendary stoner, even though he recently gave up marijuana due to age-related reasons. He once told Rolling Stone that he is high “pretty much all the time”, so much so that his wife Annie recently gifted him an expensive version of a gravity bong – best known for its staple use in high school house parties, where the bong can shoot an entire bowl of weed into the lungs in just one hit.
In fact, Nelson was preaching on the numerous medical benefits and economic potential of weed long before U.S. states began legalising it for recreational use. As he puts it, it’s a medicine.
Which is probably why, at the age of 86, Nelson is a walking testament to the medical power of pot. In his Rolling Stone cover story interview in 2019, he explained his habits. “I’m kind of a canary in the mine, if people are wondering what happens if you smoke that shit a long time. You know, If I started jerking or shaking or something, don’t give me no more weed. But as long as I’m all right.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Nelson tries to remember the last song he wrote while high. “The first one is way back there,” he smiles. The legend also talks about the first time he learned how to braid his hair, and – because weed is always front and centre for a Willie Nelson interview – being the “official tester” to his own Willie’s Reserve line of marijuana. “I probably tested it before anybody else did,” he says. “I think it’s like sex – it’s all good.”