As the sun set on the last day of the Austin City Limits music festival, Matthew McConaughey, a Texas legend himself, walked on stage to ask the audience to give Willie Nelson a “big, badass rowdy hello and welcome.”
The exhausted and overheated crowd that had been sitting, waiting for Nelson for over an hour, jumped to its feet and let all of Austin know that Nelson was back on stage.
As the Texas king walked on stage with his normal getup of long braided hair and a cowboy hat, fans young and old began to marvel at his presence before he even played one chord. As the band began playing one of Nelson’s many classics, “Whiskey River”, the skunk-like smell one can expect from a Willie Nelson concert slowly began creeping through the crowd of thousands.
Nelson’s aged, silvery voice rang through Zilker Park as couples danced together to “Georgia On My Mind” and children marveled at the sight. This legendary return was felt with every note and every word as the audience sang in unison. Nelson’s lyrics and music seep into Texan’s blood and stay there for a lifetime.
As the show was coming to its end, Nelson introduced the next song as “a new gospel song,” which turned out to be “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” The words weren’t spiritual but the experience seemed religious as Nelson’s smile grew from ear-to-ear as he put the microphone to the crowd and let the audience take the lead.
The 83-year-old Native Texan and legend put on a romantic, rocking and unforgettable show that left thousands with tears and smiles as he said goodbye, tipped his cowboy hat and walked off stage.