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WILLIE NELSON AND HIS GUITAR with a bit of Django Reinhardt in it and a hidden pound of marijuana by Norman Warwick

When I wrote a song with Pete Benbow and Colin Lever called Old Black Guitar Case it was an homage to Pete´s guitar case, covered in stickers that somehow told his life story.  I referenced all of them in a lyric that spoke in the first person of a musician´s eternal love for a guitar case that had been his constant companion at nights at The Gallows, down at The Fisherman´s Inn and most often at our residency, as Lendanear at The King´s, in downtown Heywood.

The song spoke of the musician´s realisation that his guitar case was looking somewhat frayed around the edges and perhaps was not even fit for service and so he should probably buy a new one and replace ´her´. It would break his heart to do so, and he knew it would break hers too, so he asked the question  ´could one of us survive when we have always been two´? The song was subsequently recorded by American artist Jeff McDonald, who also loves his guitars !

A few years after writing the song I saw Willie Nelson play at a Wembley Country Music Festival and didn´t realise that the guitar I was hearing throughout the concert,  until he told me during an interview after the show,  that he had already been playing that same guitar for more than thirty years. Willie gently picked the strings that night, and it sounded wonderful through the acoustics as he played his Stardust collection of songwriters like Hoagy Carmichael. This was far removed from the red haired stranger who was such a stalwart of the country scene but that guitar handled it all with aplomb, following, in glorious tone, Willie´s fingers and their delicate guidance.

Now, another thirty years later I have been reminded, via American Songwriter, that Willie Nelson is still playing that same guitar.

Willie Nelson’s talent as a genre-bending musical artist is undeniably special. Between his easily recognizable voice, unique country tunes, and incredible song-writing ability, Nelson has cemented himself in country-folk music history. But, there’s another entity that deserves a little bit of credit for Nelson’s success: his trusty guitar, Trigger.

Nelson has been playing the same Martin acoustic guitar since 1969, and the country music legend fondly named it Trigger. Nelson bought the guitar nearly 55 years ago after a drunken bystander damaged his previous guitar at a gig in Helotes, Texas. In need of a new instrument, Nelson bought Trigger for $750, which was considered pretty pricey at the time. Still, Nelson felt a pull towards the Martin guitar, which “had a bit of Django Reinhardt in it.”

After making the purchase, Nelson named the guitar after Roy Roger’s horse. The man and the instrument have been inseparable since. In fact, Nelson saved Trigger from a house fire years ago that destroyed all of his belongings except for the guitar and, as he put it, a pound of marijuana he had hidden.

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