TIME Books

How LSD Cemented Willie Nelson’s Relationship With Pot

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

"My love affair with pot became a long-term marriage," the musician writes in his new memoir

It’s no secret that Willie Nelson is fond of weed: he recently announced he’ll market his own brand of recreational marijuana, “Willie’s Reserve.”

But pot is not the only drug the “On the Road Again” singer has tried over the years. In his new memoir, It’s a Long Story: My Life, out this week, he recounts an experiment with LSD in the ’70s. “Could I expand my mind?” he asked himself while deciding to take the plunge. “Could I lose my ego?”

He may not have lost his ego, but he did lose his grasp on reality. Nelson accidentally took triple the amount his “hippie friend” recommended just two hours before a concert, and had to perform while tripping.

As I started singing, my voice sounded like it was coming from inside a cave. Didn’t sound like my voice at all … The flickering lights out in the crowd took the form of fiery figures. Was I freaking? Were there demons out there?

Once offstage, he felt even more panicky, but realized he had to relax as much as possible because his trip worsened with anxiety. When it was over, he decided he would never drop acid again.

[E]xperimenting with LSD convinced me that I had already found the high that worked for me. My love affair with pot became a long-term marriage. It was, by far, the smoothest of all my marriages. Pot and I got along beautifully. Pot never brought me down, never busted my balls. Pot got me up and took me where I needed to go. Pot chased my blues away. When it came to calming my energy and exciting my imagination, pot did the trick damn near every time I toked.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Music

Zayn and Louis From One Direction Got Into a Twitter Spat

40 Principales Awards 2014 - Photocall
Carlos Alvarez—Getty Images Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan of One Direction attend the 40 Principales Awards 2014 at the Barclaycard Center on December 12, 2014 in Madrid.

"Remember when you had a life and stopped making b-tchy comments about mine?"

The remaining members of One Direction had plenty of good will for Zayn Malik when he announced in March that he was quitting the wildly popular boy band to be a “normal 22-year-old.” “We’re really sad to see Zayn go,” they wrote in a statement, “but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future.”

Bad news, One Direction fans—that may not be the case anymore, as Malik had some harsh words for former bandmate Louis Tomlinson on Wednesday. Since Malik’s departure, Tomlinson has butted heads with music producer Naughty Boy, whom Tomlinson accused of antagonizing 1D fans after Naughty Boy released solo Malik material he produced not long after news of the split broke.

But after Tomlinson appeared to diss a photo of Malik and Naughty Boy that the producer tweeted Wednesday, Malik decided he’d had enough. “Remember when you had a life and stopped making b-tchy comments about mine?” he tweeted at Tomlinson.

So much for keeping things civil, boys.

TIME Music

Becky G Hangs With Real-Life Boyfriend Austin Mahone in ‘Lovin So Hard’ Video

Now we know who she's been singing about in the shower

TIME’s list of the most influential teens has its first power couple—not that we’re taking any credit. Becky G and Austin Mahone, who graced our annual list last year, recently confirmed their relationship after months of speculation about the pop singers. Whatever desire they had for privacy must have died down, though, as the two spend the entirety of Becky’s new music video for “Lovin’ So Hard” flaunting their romance: holding hands, goofing off, eating tacos, and swinging selfie sticks, which they probably used to film this charmingly low-budget look at young love.

Influential teens — they grow up so fast, don’t they?

Read next: Becky G Is Back With Another Catchy Song About Young Love

Read next: 5 Ways Becky G Knew “Shower” Was a Hit

TIME remembrance

Hot Chocolate Singer Errol Brown Dies at 71

Hot Chocolate frontman Errol Brown from a file photo dated July 24, 1999.
Sean Dempsey—AP Hot Chocolate frontman Errol Brown from a file photo dated July 24, 1999.

Brown was suffering from liver cancer

(LONDON)—The manager of Hot Chocolate singer Errol Brown says he has died in the Bahamas at age 71.

Manager Phil Dale said Wednesday the singer, best known for hits “You Sexy Thing” and “It Started With A Kiss,” died of liver cancer. Dale said Brown’s death had come as a surprise, saying “(Brown) had been poorly over the past few months but he never discussed it.”

The manager added “He’d be sadly missed by his friends and family. He was an extremely good personal friend.”

Brown is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Hot Chocolate had numerous chart hits in the 1970s. In 1981, they played at a pre-wedding party for Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Buckingham Palace.

TIME Music

Prince to Play ‘Rally 4 Peace’ Concert in Baltimore on Mother’s Day

Prince
John Shearer—Invision/AP Prince presents the award for album of the year at the 57th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

He's expected to play "Baltimore," the as-yet-unreleased song he wrote about the unrest in the city

The Purple One is coming to Baltimore to keep the peace.

In the wake of unrest over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Prince announced he will play a “Rally 4 Peace” concert on Mother’s Day this Sunday at the Royal Farms Arena, the Baltimore Sun reports. Tickets go on sale Wednesday at 5 p.m.

“As a symbolic message of our shared humanity and love for one another, attendees are invited to wear something gray in tribute to all those recently lost in the violence,” read the concert announcement, which arrived a little more than a week after rioting broke out in the city.

Prince, who also said he’s going to talk to Jay Z about streaming the concert on Tidal, is expected to perform “Baltimore,” a new, unreleased song he wrote about the “the unrest in Baltimore and the socio/political issues around the country in the wake of a slew of killings of young black men,” according to his spokesperson.

The song’s official lyrics are:

NOBODY GOT IN NOBODY’S WAY
SO EYE GUESS U COULD SAY
IT WAS A GOOD DAY
AT LEAST A LITTLE BETTER THAN THE DAY IN BALTIMORE

DOES ANYBODY HEAR US PRAY?
4 MICHAEL BROWN OR FREDDIE GRAY PEACE IS MORE THAN THE ABSENCE OF WAR
ABSENCE OF WAR

R WE GONNA C ANOTHER BLOODY DAY?
WE’RE TIRED OF CRYIN’ & PEOPLE DYIN’
LET’S TAKE ALL THE GUNS AWAY

ABSENCE OF WAR- U AND ME
MAYBE WE CAN FINALLY SAY
ENUFF IS ENUFF IT’S TIME 4 LOVE

IT’S TIME 2 HEAR,
IT’S TIME 2 HEAR

THE GUITAR PLAY!

TIME Music

Check Out Snoop Dogg’s New Track ‘California Roll’ Featuring Stevie Wonder

And we don't think the Doggfather is talking about sushi

Snoop Dogg can now include Stevie Wonder on his musical-legend collaboration checklist. His new song, “California Roll,” dropped on Tuesday and features the Motown legend on vocals, keyboard and harmonica.

Produced by Pharrell, the song is a chilled-out ovation to the Los Angeles medical-marijuana program.

In an interview with Yahoo Music, Snoop explained that getting Wonder on board was a bit of a coup and Pharrell was skeptical the 64-year-old would be interested. Snoop tells an outrageous behind-the-scenes story of the process and suggests he may have been the one who actually produced the song.

Snoop Dogg and Pharrell have collaborated on numerous occasions, including the commercial hit “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

Snoop’s new album, Bush, is set for release on May 12.

TIME Music

4 Concerts to Stream as the Grateful Dead Turns 50

The Grateful Dead At the Family Dog
Robert Altman—Getty Images From left: Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan, Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead perform onstage at The Family Dog in 1970 in San Francisco, Calif.

Some of the band's best shows can easily be heard online

Correction appended, May 6, 1025

You’re gonna have to trust me on this, kids.

Once upon a time, Rock ‘n’ Roll was exciting. Not Mumford and Sons-tries-to-sound-like-Coldplay exciting. Not new-U2-tries-to-sound-like-the-old-U2 exciting. Not some-Swedish-producer-found-a-way-to-get-better-sonics-from-an-acoustic-strum exciting. But really, shockingly, I have-no-idea-what-happens-next, can-you-really-do-that-with-an-electric-guitar exciting. Buddy Holly exciting. Velvet Underground exciting. Grateful Dead exciting. Exciting like a new Kanye track is today.

Those days are gone. Holly is history. Lou Reed passed to the wild side. And the Dead have been dead for years, though the surviving members, some now in their 70s, plan a resurrection this summer in Soldier Field, a final set of shows for an act that ended, depending on your point of view, when Jerry Garcia died in 1995 or at some point before, when he fell into his heroin addiction, or relapsed back into it, over a blur of tours, triumphs and burnouts during the preceding two decades.

But as the Dead hit their 50th anniversary, it is worth remembering them nonetheless. The band—which first played together on May 5, 1965, under the name The Warlocks—developed a strand of rock that will never be matched, because the ground cannot be broken again. By grafting the discipline of backwoods American roots music to the improvisation of Charlie Parker, Art Tatum and Django Reinhardt, they tied together two great eras of 20th-century American white-kid rebellion—the Beats and the Hippies—and then took it as far as their minds could stretch, with the early help of wide-eyed, West Coast LSD.

This was a band that suffered writing songs, struggled in the studio, but shot the moon on the stage. On any given night, they could be terrible or terrific, or both, and no single member of the band controlled the outcome. For at its core, it was an improv band, with each member of the group playing around his part in each song, stretching for something he had not achieved before. For years, they went on stage without set lists. For decades, they surprised even themselves.

So as a service to those who will never see a show, and who may now mistake the Grateful Dead for a parking lot scene of dread-locked dullards huffing nitrous balloons and seeking other chemical escapes from suburban malaise, here are a few of their better shows over the years, which are now archived online and available to stream for free.

Aug. 27, 1972 at the Olde Renaissance Faire Grounds in Veneta, Ore.

Listen:

 

June 9, 1973 at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, D.C. (Also the following night June 10, 1973.)

Listen:

 

Aug. 13, 1975 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, Calif.

Listen:

Correction: The original version of this piece misstated the date of the concert at the Old Renaissance Faire Grounds. It took place on Aug. 27, 1972.

TIME Music

Listen to Vance Joy’s Gorgeous Taylor Swift Cover

Vance Joy plays Taylor Swift just as Taylor Swift played Vance Joy

Vance Joy is doing for Taylor Swift as Taylor Swift did for Vance Joy.

Swift gave the Australian singer-songwriter’s “Riptide” a piano-heavy cover on BBC1’s Live Lounge back in October, as she was preparing to release 1989. Now, Joy has covered Swift’s 1989 song “I Know Places,” giving that track the intimate treatment Swift gave “Riptide.” The accompanying video highlights Joy’s guitar work on the song, which, as it appears on the album, shows Swift going full pop.

The Swift-Joy mutual admiration society will continue, as he is joining Swift on her just-launched tour.

TIME Music

Watch Miley Cyrus and Joan Jett Rock Out Together

They sing Jett's 'Different' to raise money for LGBT and homeless youth

Back in 2012, Miley Cyrus performed a beautiful cover of “Jolene” as part of her “Backyard Sessions.” Now, Cyrus is bringing this series back to raise money for her new non-profit, the Happy Hippie Foundation, which fights “injustice facing homeless youth, LGBT youth, and other vulnerable populations.”

For her first video, Cyrus teamed with Joan Jett to perform “Different,” from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ 2013 album Unvarnished. Check out their performance, which Cyrus posted on Facebook Tuesday:

Cyrus also plans to release collaborations with Ariana Grande, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace and Melanie Safka.

TIME Music

Review: Best Coast Go Full Power Pop on California Nights

best coast
Harvest Records

All the fuzz and distance of Best Coast’s previous records has been Lemon Pledged into guitar sparkle

Nothing harshes California’s mellow like California itself. As power-pop lifers Kay Hanley and Linus of Hollywood, who named their band Palmdale for it, once said: “Palmdale sounds like a happy, beautiful place, but it’s actually a bleak, concrete-encased desert town with a very high meth lab-to-people ratio.” It just takes an hour too long at the beach for sun-soaked to turn into sun-sick, after all, and parallel to the carefree music codified by the Beach Boys and pornified by Katy Perry runs a tradition that’s equally indebted to the West Coast, and equally irresistible: the fun-and-sun pop song about dead-end suburbia, sulk-around boredom and bad decisions in sunny weather. California girls, they’re inconsolable—and none more so than the girls who inhabit any given Best Coast song.

Anyone who knows Best Coast probably also knows the Best Coast memes: the cannabis-fueled sulking, the Cathy-approaching levels of pining over boys, the cat Bethany Cosentino wishes could talk, the state of California getting a literal bear hug, the fact that all their songs famously sound the same. As one writer said of the band and its contemporaries, they’re “obsessed with the various qualities of sand, sunshine, friendship, and/or the waves, and they’re too high to take a position on much else.” As a band concept, it’s snappy as a sales pitch, inviting as a June beach and responsible for a lot of fans falling fast in summer love. Still, it’s the sort of thing that, when sustained over more than one album, easily leads to a backlash. As backlashes do, the sniping about Best Coast’s music soon turned into a referendum on their personality, and specifically the personality of Cosentino herself. Her looks, her persona, her relationships (notably with fellow indie kid Wavves) became fodder for sneering-at-best bloggers. These days, even people who like Best Coast tend to liken Cosentino, who is 28, to a “needy, narcissistic teen.”

It shouldn’t have to happen this way. When Best Coast debuted with Crazy For You they were quickly lumped in with what was at the time a surfeit of lo-fi, all-women or at least female-fronted garage bands. This was always an awkward fit, less a scene than a trendpiece, and most of these acts soon abandoned the fuzzy girl-group sound for other lands, like ‘80s mall goth, or breakups. Meanwhile, Best Coast have quietly found themselves in the zeitgeist. Haim, by channeling California cool, have earned a besotten following of music heads and, increasingly, celebrities. Weed, quarter-life crises and power-pop gloss make up Colleen Green’s excellent and much-feted I Want to Grow Up, to name one of a bouquet of flower-powered California acts. The sad-girl act has been lately embraced as an Internet aesthetic (take the 200K follower-strong tweeter @sosadtoday, from—where else?—L.A.). That other California drear-er of note now tops the mainstream charts. Improbably, Best Coast have become underrated.

Luckily, the band’s well-positioned to drop that “under.” California Nights—sharing a name with a track by the late Lesley Gore—is the band’s major-label debut, on Capitol’s Harvest Records, and it sounds it. If The Only Place was Best Coast’s big pop move, then by comparison California Nights is the size of the Hollywood sign. All the fuzz and distance of Best Coast’s previous records has been Lemon Pledged into guitar sparkle; the result’s almost unrecognizable as the product of two people who used to be in a drone-folk band. A lot of the credit here goes to producer Wally Gagel, who produced Best Coast’s last EP Fade Away as well as the power-pop likes of Superchunk, Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly’s post-Belly debut, the underrated Lovesongs for Underdogs. Unlike Jon Brion, who helmed The Only Place, Gagel’s not afraid to go for the hook, and where The Only Place didn’t sound polished so much as sprayed stiff, California Nights sparkles like pavement and sounds great: one shining hook, directed right at your heart.

We’re in the realm of power-pop, in other words, where the band’s always belonged. “When Will I Change” tweaks the riff from Blondie’s “Dreaming”; “Fine Without You” is a dead Letters to Cleo ringer; “Heaven Sent” sounds, gloriously, like half the radio did in 1995. Bobb Bruno races through fast tracks, while Bethany Cosentino pulls syllables like bubblegum, deploys words like punctuation—which is key. The average Best Coast lyric (representative: “why don’t you like me / what’s with the jealousy / sha la la, sha la la…”) can be rewritten with no more than three emoji, and you’d probably end up re-using the same three. But you could say the same of the best power-pop acts—think Shonen Knife, or the Ramones even—and there’s a method to Cosentino’s single-mindedness. The themes are largely unchanged: bad boyfriends, friend breakups, more weed—concentrated on the title track, a psychedelic reverb trip without a scrap of irony—and the push-pull inertia of wanting to grow up and not really wanting to move. By track two Cosentino’s bouncy and hooky, telling herself to stop wasting time and sounding convinced; by track 12 (“Wasted Time”) she doesn’t sound convinced of much of anything but the soporific drift, as easy to get lost in as one slept-away afternoon, then five more.

It’s tempting to call this maturity, but neither the sounds nor the shrugs are anything Best Coast hasn’t dwelled upon since Crazy For You. Go back and re-listen and it’s all there, like re-runs of the same show on the same TV, watched in the same apartments during the same long summers. That’s the point, and it always was. Being 28 and having meandered for years through variations on the same love and life limbo is, to put it lightly, not an unfamiliar scenario for most of Best Coast’s listeners, old or new. California, as it does in so much fiction, becomes a stand-in for the whole country; the California blues turn out to be not that different than any given listener’s own personal inertia. But the trick of this music—a trick Best Coast are very near perfecting—is that it sounds like so much fun.

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