Unmistakably Willie

Coming face to face with a mural that is larger than life, of a man who is larger than life stopped me in my tracks.

Of all the street art in Austin that I’ve seen on my last three visits, this one is by far my favorite.

I’ve been listening to Willie all my life, though I wasn’t convinced he was special until I was about 16. Up until that time, all my exposure to him was on country radio.

But one day at my after-school job at the public library, a new record arrived for me to shelve with the new releases. Something about the cover art must have captured my fancy because instead of shelving it, I checked it out for myself.

When I got home and dropped the needle on the first of four sides I was hoping to hear something interesting. Side one held no interest. I had already heard “On the Road Again” which was perfectly fine but wasn’t my kind of song.

I put on side two and was completely uninterested in the first cut. Just as I was about to give up on the record, the song “Whiskey River” started.

To say that song was a revelation is a complete understatement. I must have replayed that song about 70 times before taking the record back to the library.

That was the starting point of a lifetime of admiration.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2300 completed sessions in all 50 US states.

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