Six Austin places, past and present, to commune with Willie – News – Austin American-Statesman
There are two types of people in Austin: those who remember old Austin and those who will remember old Austin in a few years.
Wait, it’s not that. Maybe it is: who has allergies and who will.
Well maybe both are true. But what I’m aiming for is this: The ones who love Willie Nelson and the ones who should start.
Willie was born in Abbott, north of Waco, off Interstate 35. He began writing hits in Houston and wrote “Night Life” on his way from Pasadena. The budding songwriter had a career in Nashville, and when his house burned down he found his stand in Bandera. Even now, he’s often found in Maui, Hawaii, playing, joking, and playing with friends.
But (at least when he’s not out and about) Austin is the spiritual home of Willie Nelson. He would always be a great songwriter. He created a little more here. Do you feel it too
Here are six places in and near Austin that you can look at Willie right now … or think about Willie then.
1. The Willie Nelson Statue, 310 W. Second St.
The 8 foot tall statue was unveiled on April 20th (April 20th!) 2012. The sculpture was designed by Philadelphia-based artist Clete Shields and is located near the home of Austin City Limits. The long-running show’s pilot was, of course, Willie.
2. Threadgills Headquarters, 301 W. Riverside Drive
Quite physically and mentally at the top of the grounds of the iconic Armadillo World Headquarters, head to the bar (or sit down for a chicken steak) and think that only the years separate you from that night in 1972 when Willie actually brought it the hippies and rednecks together in an epic August Armadillo show (and paved its future path). Armadillo handler and Threadgills owner Eddie Wilson would be instrumental in next year helping Willie Nelson’s first picnic on July 4th be a success.
3. The giant Willie Nelson mural, East Seventh on Neches Street
Artist and musician Wiley Ross spent 80 hours over six days completing this 60 by 20 foot mural, which will make a great backdrop for your next snapshot, selfie, or official portrait.
4. Southpark Meadows, 9500 S. Interstate 35
You don’t have to eat here at the Texas Roadhouse, although Willie is a partner and there are a few memorabilia. Instead, continue into the mall towards the Hobby Lobby. The parking lot used to be the stage for the Southpark Meadows concert venue. Willie hosted three picnics here on July 4th: 1984, 2000 and especially 1985. 1985 was not only the rainiest picnic, but also one of the first appearances by The Highwaymen, the country supergroup Willie, who formed with friends Waylon Jennings, Johnny, Cash and Kris Kristofferson was founded.
5. The Willie for President mural, 1423 S. Congress Ave.
This smaller mural on the side of the Stag Provisions for Men building is probably a little better for taking snapshots with the red-haired stranger. It’s also very close to the former location of the Austin Opry House, the venue that Willie opened in 1977. The Opry House was Willie’s often chaotic, not nearly as good, answer to Armadillo World Headquarters.
6. Poodies Hilltop Roadhouse, 22308 US 71 W., Spicewood
Named and created after Willie Nelson stage manager Randall “Poodie” Locke, who passed away in 2009, this Hill Country bar was as close as possible to the idea that Willie could just stop by and pick a few songs for a while. That may be more legend than reality these days, but when he’s not in Hawaii or on the road, Willie lives nearby. When you start a conversation, you never know who’s going to tell the next Willie story – or who they might introduce you to.