Willie Nelson: ‘I don’t believe in closing the border. We have a statue that says: Y’all come in’

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At 85, Willie Nelson still spends half the year on the road and is busy supporting Texan Democrat nominee Beto O’Rourke. And the giant of country music’s 2,500 song catalogue just keeps growing

In the Boston suburb of Mansfield, Massachusetts, I am summoned to Willie Nelson’s tour bus a couple of hours before he takes to the stage at the Outlaw music festival. Meanwhile, in Dallas, the progressive Democrat Beto O’Rourke is wrapping up his first debate with Ted Cruz, his Republican opponent in Texas’s too-close-to-call US Senate race. O’Rourke will later be seen celebrating his strong performance by air-drumming to the Who in a Whataburger drive-thru.

Soon after Nelson signed on to headline a major O’Rourke rally on 29 September, some conservative fans reportedly planned to boycott his music in protest. A doctored photograph went viral of Nelson in a Beto for Texas shirt, flipping off at the camera like his friend Johnny Cash. But an actual boycott appeared to be bogus, or at least overblown; and anyway, as singer Wheeler Walker Jr tweeted: “You can argue politics all you want, but you cannot argue Willie.”

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