Stood-up at Verizon and nearly walked-over by TV news stations at the Gruene Hall flood victims' benefit concert in July, we lowly reporters from the Current made vicious phone calls to publicists and hard-balled venue managers, to little effect. Finally a PR lady from Austin helped us to get an audience with Mr. Willie Nelson in Gruene.

We didn't know what would happen when we finally saw him. Would we reveal our mutual love of smoky treats, convincing him to take us on the road? We would drive the backroads, Willie at the wheel, Ed and I shotgun, and end up in a gas station parking lot drinking coffee as the sun rose.

In reality, we were cordially slipped into his motorhome between his interviews with the television jackals and the Herald-Zeitung newspaper. Pressed for time, Ed and I fired off questions, snapped some photos, and were eating fries next door — without Willie — before we even realized the interview was over. Fortunately we taped the whole thing.

John: We caught you at the Verizon. We didn't get to go backstage, but it was a good show, nonetheless.

WilliE: Oh yes.

J: So the show was great, and we're wondering what you're working on for out in the future.

E: Or right now.

W: Oh, yeah. Ray Price and I have an album that we did together up at my place in Austin, actually Lubbock, a few weeks ago. The band and I just came out of the studio. We did a bunch of tracks, so I've definitely got some stuff in there.

J: What are you listening to now?

W: I listen to still a lot of Django, still a lot of Hank Williams and a lot of the old traditional stuff.

E: Chet Baker, too?

W: Chet Baker, too, yeah.

E: We always hear you on "American Roots." It seems Rick Sptizer, on the radio show, he always tries to find some way to work you in.

W: Yeah, that's good.

J: How've the crowds been tonight?

W: How's the what?

J: The crowds, how have the media and stuff been so far tonight?

W: Oh, it's great. There's an amazing amount of media here tonight.

J: I was wondering, why are you doing your interviews before the show?

W: I don't, I normally don't. I normally do them after the show, but there's so many on this one, and uh, we're trying to get out of here pretty early tonight. So we're trying to do them before the show.

J: Have you seen any movies recently?

W: Movies?

J: Yeah.

W: No, I haven't.

J: Read any books? I'm just trying to cover all the bases.

W: There's a new book out called Stupid White Men. Have you read that, by Michael Moore?

J: That is good.

E: Michael Moore, that's a great book. Have you had any opportunity to meet Michael Moore?

W: No, I haven't. I'd love to someday, he's a funny guy.

J: Do you mind if we get a photo?

W: No. Sure.

J: (Having trouble with the camera)

Anonymous aidE: Photographers.

J: Oh, for real. I'm a reporter, so that's the problem.

E: We don't know how to work those things.

J: Thank you, we appreciate this. It was really excellent to meet you.

E: Thanks a lot.

W: It was really nice to meet you all. You boys going to the show?

J: Of course.

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