Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Willie Nelson tells Jimmy Fallon, "Marijuana saved my life"

Willie Nelson, Jimmy Fallon
Screenshot: The Tonight Show

In addition to being Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson has long been the most out-front celebrity champion of recreational marijuana ever. (Sorry Seth Rogen, but Willie’s got you beat by about a half-century.) Appearing on Tuesday’s Tonight Show to promote his new release Ride Me Back Home (his astonishing 98th studio album, according to estimates), the 86-year-old country music icon was just as vocal as ever about the benefits—medicinal and otherwise—of his longtime drug of choice. Telling Jimmy Fallon that taking up pot (as opposed to 2-3 daily packs of Chesterfields and drinking “whatever there was there to drink”) is literally what’s made it possible for him to make it to 86, Nelson waxed genially about his long history with getting mellow.

And it’s not an idle, jigsaw puzzles and Judge Judy 86, as Nelson told Fallon about the busy touring schedule coming up for his Outlaw Music Festival, alongside the likes of Alison Krauss, The Avett Brothers, Nathaniel Rateliff, & The Night Sweats, and others. Sure, it helps that Willie has the biggest, comfiest, weed-smellingest tour bus in the business, but who’s going to begrudge Willie Nelson a little comfort? Speaking of comfort, Fallon revealed that Nelson has gifted him a generous helping of Willie’s Reserve, the Willie-tested-and-approved strain of marijuana that’s the flagship product of Nelson’s burgeoning now-semi-legal pot empire. (“I haven’t run across any I didn’t like,” confessed Nelson, which might undermine the stringent testing claim a bit.)


Naturally Fallon, being Fallon, played giggly and cutesy with the fact that Willie Nelson gifted him some weed—as if Fallon needs help to get any gigglier. Still, it’s testament to Nelson’s persistence and outlaw cred that he was a weed outlaw long before weed went increasingly legal in America, with Nelson wryly commenting that all it took was for corporations to see “that there’s money in there” for Willie (if not the untold thousands of incarcerated, not-famous, and largely not-white weed dealers) to go from outlaws to avuncularly endearing entrepreneurs.

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About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.