Willie Nelson: Everything Zen

"I really do, more or less, live one day at a time," says the Texas legend in our revealing cover story.

[caption id="attachment_200627" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Photos by David McClister[/caption] The word “legend” gets tossed around often, but if anyone fits the definition, it’s Willie Nelson. Though venerated as a co-founder of outlaw country, his recorded output spans nearly the entire spectrum of popular song and stands as one of the greatest bodies of work in modern music history. His cultural impact stretches even further; he’s an established film and television actor and best-selling author, not to mention philanthropist and crusader for humanitarian causes. As he approaches his 85th birthday, it’s fair to ask what makes the man a legend — and the legend a man. The verdict: It’s as much about character as career. Maybe more. Just after 4:20 p.m. on April 20, 2012, Willie Nelson stood on a street corner in Austin, Texas, looking mildly bemused. Squinting in the sun, he peered at a newly unveiled statue — a larger-than-life bronze replica of himself. As he studied that benevolent-looking visage, regarding its faithfully rendered part-Cherokee cheekbones, chest-length braids under his trademark bandanna, and even Trigger, his well-worn Martin acoustic, the irony of this honor was not lost on him. Most people will never know the peculiar experience of standing next…

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