Some conservative country music fans are angry at country music legend Willie Nelson after he announced his support for Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.
“My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson said in a press release provided to Austin360. “Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”
This Wednesday, Nelson posted a message to his Facebook page stating that he’ll be headlining a rally for O’Rourke this coming September 29. Immediately, the comment thread filled up with people angry over his decision.
“I haven’t been this disappointed since the day I used my ‘Dixie Chicks’ CD’s for target practice,” one commenter wrote. “Why couldn’t you just stay out of politics? As a lifelong fan that still has my original “Highwayman” Album – I am done.”
“You should stay out of politics,” wrote another. “I’m a lifelong fan this is not a smart move.”
Others on the thread chided Nelson’s detractors for being ignorant about his politics, which have been historically liberal.
“Willie ‘fans’ shocked about his politics is the funniest thing I’ve heard today,” someone wrote. “You’d have to be a fairly peripheral fan to be surprised by this.”
Nelson is scheduled to perform alongside Joe Ely, Carrie Rodriguez, Tameca Jones and Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Micah Nelson for the September 29 rally.
The hate carried over to Twitter, where one person offered to give up his ticket to one of Nelson’s upcoming shows.
“I am no longer willing to watch that hippie guitarist who supports that … socialist running for Senate,” Dakota Bell tweeted Wednesday.
But Nelson was also on the receiving end of a lot of love:
What kind of idiot puts supporting a political party over loving Willie Nelson?
— Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) September 14, 2018
Of all the crazy things about 2018, perhaps none are as unbelievable as discovering that there are fans of Willie Nelson who didn’t know where he stands politically.
— Craig Nash (@clocktower74) September 14, 2018
People being surprised and angry that Willie Nelson is playing a fundraiser for Progressive Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke must have missed, I don’t know, his entire music career
You really thought Willie was Conservative?
— Matt Jones (@MattJonesRadio) September 14, 2018
I predict the net change in Willie Nelson fans after this news cycle is a positive addition to his fan base. For those new to Willie's music, I suggest starting off with Stardust. It's a beautiful LP that I did not appreciate in my 1978 punk years. https://t.co/UGLlsE2IQz
— A Damn Lawyer (@adamnlawyer) September 14, 2018
Not sure what went wrong in your life that would make you insult Willie Nelson. You can argue politics all you want but you cannot argue Willie.
— Wheeler Walker, Jr. (@WheelerWalkerJr) September 13, 2018
As The Washington Post points out, Nelson’s political activism goes back decades with his support for causes such as the environment, same-sex marriage and, famously, marijuana legalization.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter invited him to perform at the White House. Nelson later said that during the visit he smoked what he called a “big fat Austin torpedo” on the roof of the White House. He has supported President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Hillary Clinton in recent years.
He even released a song last year inspired by President Trump, called “Delete and Fast-Forward.”
So far, Nelson hasn’t commented on the backlash. Considering that he’s now 85, he probably doesn’t give a shit.