A pioneer of outlaw country, Willie Nelson has been a country music staple for over five decades. Learn about his life, upbringing, and music in the Willie Nelson quotes below.
What’s your favorite Willie Nelson song?
Willie Nelson’s love for music began in childhood, writing his first song at age 7. As an adult, his first songs were recorded using the radio station’s equipment where he worked.
Nelson later began writing songs for country artists throughout the nation. After penning Patsy Cline’s jukebox hit “Crazy”, Liberty Records signed him.
Nelson has released 95 studio albums. His most popular songs include “On the Road Again”, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, and “Whiskey River.” He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.
Gain the insight of musician Willie Nelson through the quotes below.
Don’t forget to also check out these Johnny Cash quotes for living a full life.
Powerful Willie Nelson quotes
1. “You don’t have to be poor to need something or somebody.” – Willie Nelson
2. “Cruelty is all out of ignorance. If you knew what was in store for you, you wouldn’t hurt anybody, because whatever you do comes back much more forceful than you send it out.” – Willie Nelson
3. “Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there.” – Willie Nelson
4. “We create our own unhappiness. The purpose of suffering is to help us understand we are the ones who cause it.” – Willie Nelson
5. “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson
6. “We’ve already been reincarnated about a million times, maybe. It doesn’t make sense any other way.” – Willie Nelson
7. “It doesn’t hurt to feel sad from time to time.” – Willie Nelson
8. “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” – Willie Nelson
9. “You will never find happiness until you stop looking for it.” – Willie Nelson
10. “Memories remind us that every moment of our lives, even the most tragic, has contributed to our strength. We’ve gotten through. We’re still here.” – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson quotes about music and creativity
11. “Three chords and the truth – that’s what a country song is.” – Willie Nelson
12. “There’s a great enthusiasm for good country music all over the world.” – Willie Nelson
13. “I never gave up on country music because I knew what I was doing was not that bad.” – Willie Nelson
14. “Sometimes there is a 36-piece orchestra going off in my stomach.” – Willie Nelson
15. “I think most art comes out of poverty and hard times.” – Willie Nelson
16. “If a song was ever good, it’s still good.” – Willie Nelson
17. “Writing books is fun because after I do a show for a couple hours, I’m in a bus for 22 hours. It’s not hard for me to look out the window and tell a joke here and there.” – Willie Nelson
18. “When you hear me, you know it’s me, regardless of the song.” – Willie Nelson
19. “I like myself better when I’m writing regularly.” – Willie Nelson
20. “When I’m driving the highway by myself is when I write best.” – Willie Nelson
21. “We are the same. There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people. They laugh, cry, feel, and love, and music seems to be the common denomination that brings us all together. Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.” – Willie Nelson
22. “Ninety-nine percent of the world’s lovers are not with their first choice. That’s what makes the jukebox play.” – Willie Nelson
23. “When you’re singing, you’re using extra muscles, and it requires a lot of exercise and breathing. You can’t do that if you’re a sissy. If I have any fitness advice for people, I’d tell them to sing more. It’s good therapy, too.” – Willie Nelson
24. “I would like to see more airplay for all artists, no matter what age. I think there’s a lot of money being spent toward the young guys, but a lot of the older guys are the ones who blazed the trail for those young guys.” – Willie Nelson
25. “Great songs stand out wherever they’re from.” – Willie Nelson
26. “You could make any song sound creepy if you wanted. It’s all about the inflection.” – Willie Nelson
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of song quotes from some of the biggest hits.
27. “I like to stick with music I know I can play. I love classical, but I don’t think I could ever play it. I’m just not qualified.” – Willie Nelson
28. “There are only so many notes so there must be only so many melodies.” – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson quotes about upbringing
29. “I’m from Texas, and one of the reasons I like Texas is because there’s no one in control.” – Willie Nelson
30. “I used to work in the cotton fields a lot when I was young. There were a lot of African Americans working out there. A lot of Mexicans – the blacks and the whites and the Mexicans, all out there singing, and it was like an opera in the cotton fields, and I can still hear it in the music that I write and play today.” – Willie Nelson
31. “Since I was a kid, music was what I wanted to do. I thought I could make it by my own talents. That’s what I wanted to prove.” – Willie Nelson
32. “I started out really young, when I was four, five, six, writing poems, before I could play an instrument. I was writing about things when I was eight or 10 years old that I hadn’t lived long enough to experience. That’s why I also believe in reincarnation, that we were put here with ideas to pass around.” – Willie Nelson
33. “I started out writing poems before I figured to put melodies to them and play the guitar. Somewhere, there’s a book out there on all those early songs and poems. I hope no one ever finds it. I don’t think it’s my finest work.” – Willie Nelson
34. “The first time I got onstage was when I was about 5 years old. It was at a church social, and I had a poem to recite.” – Willie Nelson
35. “I started learning my lessons in Abbott, Texas, where I was born in 1933. My sister Bobbie and I were raised by our grandparents. We never had enough money, and Bobbie and I started working at an early age to help the family get by. That hard work included picking cotton. Picking cotton is hard and painful work, and the most lasting lesson I learned in the fields was that I didn’t want to spend my life picking cotton.” – Willie Nelson
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of grandparent quotes about the power of family.
36. “Where I grew up, Bob Wills and his western swing was very popular. And western swing is not that far from jazz and blues.” – Willie Nelson
37. “I grew up across the street from, you know, the Villarias, which was a great Mexican family there. In fact, there was three houses right across the street from me. So, day and night, I listened to Mexican music, and I’m sure, you know, my guitar playing, singing, writing, whatever, has a lot of Mexican flavor there, but it comes natural.” – Willie Nelson
38. “When I was about 12, I had my first paying gig – 8 dollars to play rhythm guitar in a polka band. Pretty soon, I ended up playing in all the bars within driving distance of Abbott, Texas.” – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson quotes about life
39. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson
40. “You want to be a good parent and you want to be a friend, and it’s hard to be both. You have to balance it as well as you can.” – Willie Nelson
41. “You know why divorces are so expensive? They’re worth it.” – Willie Nelson
42. “Freedom is control in your own life.” – Willie Nelson
43. “I think I’m basically the same guy I always was. Maybe I’ve learned, through experience, to rein in some of the anger and temper they say redheads normally have.” – Willie Nelson
44. “Most of the stuff I’ve read about me has been true.” – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson quotes about society and government
45. “I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?” – Willie Nelson
46. “I don’t think any person has any special knowledge about what God has planned for me and you any more than me and you do.” – Willie Nelson
47. “I’m just an ole redneck from Texas who ain’t a Democrat or Republican, but I can look at a guy and tell whether I like him or not.” – Willie Nelson
48. “To hell with what people think. Just be who you are and you’ll be happy.” – Willie Nelson
49. “If you really want to get along with somebody, let them be themselves.” – Willie Nelson
50. “I think most people realize that our problems are our government, not me and you individually, except that we can – must have some sort of responsibility, because they’re in there and they were elected, so we have to defend ourselves on those lines.” – Willie Nelson
More Willie Nelson quotes
51. “There are more old drunks than there are old doctors.” – Willie Nelson
52. “God has blessed you richly, so get down on your knees and thank him. Don’t forget the less fortunate or God will personally kick your ass. I’d love to do it for him, but I can’t be everywhere.” – Willie Nelson
53. “You’ll never get ahead by blaming your problems on other people.” – Willie Nelson
54. “I got along without you before I met you and I’ll get along without you a long time after you’re gone.” – Willie Nelson
55. “If you’ve made your own hell, then only you have the power to escape it.” – Willie Nelson
56. “Positive thoughts lead to positive actions.” – Willie Nelson
57. “You know inside whether it’s right. But you still have to choose to do it.” – Willie Nelson
58. “It’s good to change. If the change brings about confusion, who cares? Confusion makes you think. And that’s another good thing.” – Willie Nelson
59. “I am the only person who can set me free from what might have been.” – Willie Nelson
What social issues are you passionate about?
Throughout his life-long music career, Willie Nelson used his platform to talk about issues he cared about. For example, he advocates for the LGBT movement, animal rights, and Marijuana legalization.
Although we don’t all have as large of a platform as Willie Nelson, we still do have the power to create change. Speak your mind about your ideas to better your greater community. It’s people like you who are instrumental in making the world a kinder, more inclusive place to live.
Which of these Willie Nelson quotes and sayings is your favorite? Who should we feature next on Everyday Power? Give us your thoughts below.
March 4, 2021 6:00 AM EST