I guess I should not be surprised. Nothing stays the same anymore. Ole Miss got rid of the Rebel mascot, and Lewis Grizzard rolled over 20 times in his grave. People no longer listen when E.F. Hutton speaks, because E.F. Hutton is no longer around. Mr. Whipple no longer squeezes Charmin, and Aunt Jemima went the way of the slide rule.

But now they tell me Willie Nelson has gone and quit smoking pot.

You have got to be kidding me. Before you know it, I will find out Old Faithful has quit erupting. Next I will find out George Jones quit drinking. Which, come to think of it, he did, right after he died.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not an advocate for smoking marijuana, but Willie has been smoking it since 1954. That’s right, since 1954. I’m not sure what 65 years of smoking dope will do to you, but it appears fairly certain it will not affect your singing voice or songwriting ability, among other things. It might affect your memory, which may explain why Willie forgot to pay his income taxes for a few years. I bet his lawyer failed to raise that defense for him when they sold off half his stuff years ago.

“I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past, so breathing is a little more difficult these days and I have to be careful,” Willie said.

I’m not sure why, but the old saying “a little too little, a little too late” comes to mind. Sort of like if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But I suppose in a way his lungs are broke, so what’s an 86-year-old pothead, singer to do?

Willie says he first began by smoking cedar bark. I am no expert on all the substances one can smoke, but I’ll wager a pretty fair bet that cedar bark is a might bit worse on the lungs than toking a joint. I mean, was a cedar tree the only plant life anywhere near Willie when he was growing up? I believe I’d try to smoke the newspaper before I’d smoke cedar bark.

Well, I guess it is a good thing Willie has decided to stop the smoking, but part of me is glad he waited until now. He wrote a lot of great songs, including Patsy Cline’s great hit “Crazy.” He wrote “Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain.” I bet if he were not smoking dope, it would have just been “Blue Eyes Crying in Atlanta” or something else not near as catchy.

The truth is there is only one certainty in life: Nothing stays the same. Keith Richards quit doing drugs and is a grandfather. Willie is smoke-free. And I’m still trying to figure out how in the you-know-what you smoke cedar bark.

Email T Gamble at wtg@colliergamble.com.

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