Singing a new tune, Willie backs Beto
Willie Nelson took to the stage in Austin last Saturday night wearing a “Beto for Texas” cap over his trademark braided hair. It didn’t last long – within minutes he had flung the hat into the crowd and replaced it with his trusted red bandana.
That Nelson was there in the heart of the state capital to lend the power of his legend to Beto O’Rourke (both pictured), the Democrat who is roiling the state with an insurgent attempt to unseat Ted Cruz from his US Senate seat, remained beyond doubt. He made no effort to remove his Beto T-shirt.
But he let his music do the talking, with a new song that left little to the imagination.
“If you don’t like who’s in there, vote ‘em out/ That’s what election day is all about / When they are gone, we will sing and shout”.
Nelson has been the unofficial figurehead of Texas since his return from Nashville to Austin in 1972. With lyrics that address the daily struggles of cowboys, farmers and lovers, he has managed to achieve the impossible: attracting the adoration of Texans across generations, spanning city and countryside and bridging the everwidening political divide. This time, though, it was too much for many Cruz-supporting Texans. Previously diehard Willie fans erupted in anger after the Austin rally was announced, griping that his decision to appear for O O’Rourke Rourke – Nelson Nelson’s s first public performance for a political candidate – was beyond the pale. But at 85, that didn’t seem to bother Willie. His embrace of progressive and liberal politics is decades old, stretching back to the famous time he got high on the roof of Jimmy Carter’s White House.