COUNTRY MUSIC PIONEER WILLIE NELSON JOINS DAN RATHER FOR AN ALL-NEW EPISODE OF THE BIG INTERVIEW, ON TUES., JAN. 26, AT 8pE
GRAMMY®-winning country music icon Willie Nelson sits down with Dan Rather in an all-new episode of THE BIG INTERVIEW, premiering Tuesday, January 26, at 8pE/5pP. During the candid hour-long discussion, the beloved author, poet, actor, and activist talks about the history and impact of his agricultural benefit concert Farm Aid, as well as the rise in organic products, and the ever-changing state of marijuana in America.
In 1985, Nelson, along with friends and fellow music legends Neil Young and John Mellencamp, spearheaded the Farm Aid benefit concert—a special event designed to benefit farmers who were at risk of losing their property due to mortgage debt. Now in its 30th year, the organization has grown tremendously, raising over 48 million dollars and attracting some of the biggest names in music, as they come together to support and honor the American farmer.
Delving into the tremendous response he’s gotten from both the music community and the public, in regards to Farm Aid, Nelson says, “Musicians know more about what’s going on out there than anybody else. They realized the farmers were in trouble. Thousands of musicians and pickers over 30 years have played Farm Aid for not one red nickel. I thought that there was a whole lot of people that came out for that first one, which showed a lot of interest. So, I felt like all those smart guys in Washington could see what the public wants, and they would do something about it. Naturally, that didn’t happen, so we had Farm Aid 2, Farm Aid 20, Farm Aid 30. And we’ll have Farm Aid 50 until they decide to do something about it.”
On the slowly-improving state of the agricultural industry, thanks in large part to the rise in demand for organic products, Nelson says, “People are finding out that they don’t have to get their food from 1,500 miles away, they can have their farmers around them grow what they need, and they can buy it at the local farmers market. And the farmers are becoming more and more aware of organic farming, so things are looking up, after all this time.”
Offering his concerns about the corporatization of the marijuana business, in this new age that finds the drug more accepted, available, and legal than its ever been before, Nelson says, “There’s already big companies, you know, and a few states that are already promoting their own product. And that’s cool. I would hate to see them start growing marijuana, and putting a lot of chemicals and pesticides on it, so that they can grow more, and more, and more, and make more and more money. They probably will do that, but I hope they don’t. I never thought it would get this far.”
Weighing in on the commonly held belief that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder narcotics, Nelson says, “I think that’s just a lot of people who don’t know what they’re talking about. They’ve heard that somewhere, so they repeat it. But, it’s not true. In fact, the opposite is true. I think more people are able to get off the strong, bad stuff by just smoking marijuana.”
Talking about his own brand of marijuana—Willie’s Reserve—which rolls out in March of 2016, Nelson says, “We were trying to grow the best… We want to regulate it, make it all worthwhile, on someone’s budget where they can afford it… [They’ve built a facility in Colorado] that’s bigger than a football field, where it showed marijuana being grown from the seeds, and it was quite amazing to watch all that, see how it progressed… I think Colorado probably has realized that there’s a lot of money there, and a lot of other states are lookin’ at the bottom line… and, ya know, those guys, they gotta see that. They gotta see what Colorado is doing, and how [many] taxes that’s bringing in to them.”
On why he’s decided to get into this booming business venture, Nelson freely admits, “To prove a point. When I got busted in El Paso a couple of years ago, I was reading about the Tea Party. So, I said, ‘Well, there’s a Tea Party, so why don’t I start a Tea Pot Party?’ And I did… I felt that if you really believe in something, why not promote it?”
To see more of this insightful episode, be sure to tune in to THE BIG INTERVIEW on Tuesday, January 26 at 8pE, only on AXS TV.
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