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Ben Olson: “Back in the Saddle” tour?

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Ben Olson, writer and musician, will once again grace the pages The Herald

EDITOR’S NOTE: By way of introductions, Ben needs none, unless you’re new to the area and The Herald. Having previously produced The Herald’s entertainment column and off-and-on musings for well over two years, He’s decided to at least keep his writing skills from going sour. With a few months’ break now under his belt he appears ready and rested. Please welcome Ben back and enjoy his brand of storytelling journalism that will hopefully make you smile but will definitely make you think. George


By BEN OLSON/for The Herald  —  I just woke up from a long nap, feeling somewhat rested. I had a dream that I resumed writing my column for the Highway 58 Herald. Not the entertainment column, but the one that was heavy on random musings. Will George have me back? He and I have butted heads on lots of issues in our time working together. I am still willing to work for nothing, so it shouldn’t affect the paper’s budget. If you are reading these words, it would appear that I’m back in the fold.


In a separate dream, I had a premonition that Willie Nelson would pass on and join that great honky-tonk band in the sky. Statistically speaking, it’s bound to happen some day. I began to pour through the plethora of internet sites regarding songs that Willie wrote and ones that he covered in concert and on recordings. I wanted to be ready when it came time to pay tribute to his amazing career. At 91, he’s still out there playing concerts. I can only hope that, if I’m lucky enough to get to 91, I’ll still be out there with my guitar playing tunes for anyone who wants to listen.


It is a curious thing that musicians who really don’t need the money keep performing because, well, what else would they do? Mick and Keith have been Rolling Stones for over 60 years, each is 80 years old. Yet they’re out there filling stadiums and prancing around like teenagers. In 1974, a half century ago, Mick Jagger said, “Rock and roll is an adolescent medium. When you don’t feel like an adolescent, you stop. I still feel like an adolescent 3 days a week.”


Paul McCartney’s 80, as well, and, just like his drummer, Ringo, he’s out there playing concerts. Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Dion, Frankie Valli, Steve Miller and Buddy Guy are all on the northside of 80, yet they refuse to pull the plug on their long careers.


I can understand why a capable musician may opt to be a member of the latest edition of Steppenwolf, Herman’s Hermits, Lynard Skynyrd or the Temptations. There will always be steady work at native casinos, county fairs and smaller venues, and it pays better than being in a bar band that no one has ever heard of. 

Most musicians that I’ve known were not very adept at planning for the future, and by the future, I mean next year. When you’re 19, it’s hard to imagine that someday, when you’re 50, that you’ll still be wearing spandex and playing the same head-banging songs. I will tell you this, though. As long as you play the songs from the time of your youth, there will be an audience of people that will want to hear that music.


It’s good to be back. I’ll be playing my Willie Nelson songs at several local venues on the weekend of July 20 & 21. I’m going to do it now. When he’s gone, I may be too sad to be able to put on much of a show.

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