Willie Revisited: Lessons from a Legend and Tribute to My Dad

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Tonight, Willie Nelson is taking on the smoke (of the wildfire kind, not the other kind 🙂 ) and playing a show in my hometown of Spokane, Washington.  It is memorable not only because it is my first concert with my mom, but also because it is one of my dad’s favorite musical icons.  Although my dad is no longer with us, the lessons he imprinted through example still resonate in my life. As a fun tribute to both the country legend and my dad, I though it would be fun to do a top five lessons learned.



Boots are a Good Choice – Always

My dad was a boot man.  My mom tells a story that when a bonus came from work once, my dad insisted on using the extra money to buy a good pair of boots. In his mind, they were an investment, and a sound one that would get him from point A to point B.  Buy the best you can afford.  To this day, boots and other footwear are something I splurge on. I would like to think Willie would agree with this first point of my top five.

 Different Name, Same Thing!

I say “Country”, my dad said “Country-Western”. My sweet dad was a Country-Western man, or as he endearingly called it, C & W.  When I was in high school and dabbled in the country genre through the likes of George Strait and Reba McIntire, my dad was thrilled that in this magical moment, we shared the same taste in music.  Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash were legends in my father’s eyes, and he was thrilled to share this passion with his young daughter.

One of the last phone conversations with my dad before he died (almost 20 years ago!) was at my first Willie Nelson concert, on the bunny hill at Snowmass, Colorado during the JAS Aspen Labor Day Festival .  He asked if Willie had already played “Pancho and Lefty”.  Being a newcomer to the legends, I didn’t know the classic tune yet.  Now, this is one of my favorites and a single playing of it can’t pass without me thinking of my dad. We always liked the same music.

Same music, different names.

 Loved Ones Don’t Leave, They Just Change Forms

My dad is no longer here on the physical ground walking, but he makes his presence known.  What a incredible experience to feel a loved one’s presence once they have left the earthy realm. I have felt the presence of my dad at concerts, or often when I am in nature.  My dad undoubtedly lives on in musical energy as well as in moments of deep connection.

I feel his presence and he is never really gone.

Bridging Differences Makes the World Go Round

It is hard to argue that Willie Nelson was anything other than a great human connector. As a storyteller, songwriter, poet, and activist, he was able to build bridges countless times between different genres, different world views, and different traditions.

What a beautiful thing!

Like Willie, I like to think that my father also did the same with the people he touched. A pretty simple and soft spoken man, I was awe-struck at the mosaic of people that came out for his funeral. He was able to see the human spirit in each person he interacted with, and that connection was not forgotten.  I was humbled at the far reaching legacy my dad left in this life.
Storytelling is Human

Humans are storytellers by nature.  Some of Willie Nelson’s best songs were stories that he told to music, unfolding magically as the tune rolled on. Storytelling draws us in, connects us to fellow humans in the heart space, and reminds us of our ancient tradition of witnessing this magical life time and time again through story. My dad as well could recount a tale with the best of them, and his stories live on, being retold by family members who are here to continue weaving our common story.



Life gives us so many lessons, and this is just a small list of the lessons I have taken from one area of my life. People, places, and experiences have all given me a clear path for life, and I am grateful for each nugget of learning I have picked up along the way.

Does this list bring up any memories for you about lessons learned? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you an inspired day!




3 thoughts on “Willie Revisited: Lessons from a Legend and Tribute to My Dad

  1. Such a very beautiful and touching tribute to your father and both your icon Willy Nelson, Melissa! Both your drawings look terrific! I wish I had boots like these! To buy the best you can afford sounds like a very sensible advice to me – shoes are so important, they carry you all day. Your list of lessons learned is a beautiful example of what is important in life – keep on learning and sharing! Much love! xxx

    1. Oh, Sarah. Your comments always make me smile! These were special sketches, and I have so many wonderful memories of my dad linked to music.

      The boots were something I always dreamed of having. so I splurged at a cowboy boot resale shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico last year on a visit with a friend. A dream realized! And only $30…hopefully they will last a long time. I wonder here history before i got them.

      Learning and sharing is what is is all about , isn’t it? I am so happy to share with you here, dear friend.

      Sending love across the land, mountains, and ocean to you!

      1. I´m so glad I can make you smile, Melissa! 😀
        Wow! $30 – that´s a real bargain! Maybe you should write a story about what you think these boots have witnessed… 😉 I´m sure you would be great at it!
        Learning and sharing – exactly! 🙂
        Have a beautiful and creative day, my dear friend! Sending you love and hugs right back over said ocean, land and mountains! xxx

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