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3 Crazy Facts About Legendary Outlaw Country Singer Willie Nelson

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Willie Nelson has long been a Texas favorite singer and songwriter, as well as an icon in country music throughout the nation. His fan base has gone global, many of his fans feel a connection to him that is unmatched. However, few know that the singer’s capacity to transcend his genre and any label we try to place on him goes far beyond the standard media headlines. Here are three things you may not have known about this legendary outlaw country singer.

1. He Was Seven Years Old When He Wrote His First Song

3 Crazy Facts About Legendary Outlaw Country Singer Willie Nelson

Photo: Instagram/willienelsonofficial

At a very young age, Willie Nelson was writing music. In 2004, he recalled the writing of his very first song to Rolling Stone: “Back when we used to take music lessons from our grandmother, we’d go through lessons, and if we’d get the lesson right that day she’d take a gold star—a little star, about the size of your finger, with glue on one side—and she’d stick it on the sheet of music, which meant you’d done well. So I wrote this song with the line ‘They took a gold star away from me when you left me for another, long ago.’ I’d never been left by anybody, so it was kind of funny.”

2. There Was a Real-Life Texas Inspiration for the Song “Pretty Paper”

3 Crazy Facts About Legendary Outlaw Country Singer Willie Nelson

Photo: Instagram/willienelsonofficial

Nelson penned the beautiful holiday song “Pretty Paper” based on the inspiration of a disabled Fort Worth street vendor who truly did sell “pretty paper, pretty ribbons” for pennies as he crawled along a downtown sidewalk. Although Roy Orbison and Nelson himself had recorded the song and took it to the charts, the identity of the street vendor went unknown for 40 years. In 2004, readers of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram began searching for his identity, which was brought to light in a regular column.

3. “On The Road Again” Was Written On a Barf Bag

3 Crazy Facts About Legendary Outlaw Country Singer Willie Nelson

Photo: Facebook/Willie Nelson

“On The Road Again” was the 1980 song written by Nelson while he was on board a plane, penned on a barf bag. In a 2014 interview with Uncut, the singer said, “I was on an airplane with Sydney Pollack and Jerry Schatzberg, who was the director of the movie Honeysuckle Rose. They were looking for songs for the movie and they started asking me if I had any ideas. I said, ‘I don’t know, what do you want the song to say?’ I think Sydney said, ‘Can it be something about being on the road?’ It just started to click in my head. I said, ‘You mean like, ‘On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again?’ They said, ‘That’s great. What’s the melody?’ I said, ‘I don’t know yet.’”