New bronze statue of Willie Nelson going up in Austin — when else? — at 4:20 on 4/20

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Only in Austin. Wait, make that only in Austin when we’re talking about Willie Nelson.

A new eight-foot, one-ton bronze statue of the country music outlaw will be unveiled — in a winking tribute to Nelson’s reputation as both a stoner and a proponent of the legalization of weed — at 4:20 p.m. on April 20, 2012. The piece, sculpted by Clete Shields, is a gift to the city from Capital Area Statues, a non-profit group.

Nelson, whose new album Heroes is set for release from Legacy Recordings on May 15, will make an appearance at the unveiling event. He is in town to perform as part of the We Walk The Line show celebrating the music of Johnny Cash.

As for which era of Nelson’s lengthy career will be represented? The sculptor isn’t giving it away: “Creating a sculpture of such an icon while he is still living presents its challenges,” Shields said in a statement. “For many, the Willie they connect with is the Outlaw Willie of the 1970s, or the influential advocate for Farm Aid in the 1980s, while others — especially a younger generation — grew fond of him during his more mature years. The sculpture needed to appeal to a broad audience and conjure up the fond memories of so many different people.”

Nelson will also have a track on the upcoming album supporting Occupy Wall Street.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Willie Nelson. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

WAYLON JENNINGS AND WILLIE NELSON – LIVE AT THE US FESTIVAL 1983 (2012): Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson took the stage of the 1983 US Festival as confirmed crossover country stars — but without all of the sell-out slickness that’s attached to the term these days. No, Jennings and Nelson were unreconstructed rebels, each in their own fashion. You had Nelson, the cookie-cutter song plugger-turned-shaggy dog superstar. And Jennings, the rough-hewn outlaw playing by his own rules. Yet both had experienced, to that point, a series of unheard-of successes for musicians in their chosen genre.

WILLIE NELSON AND ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL – WILLIE AND THE WHEEL (2009): Willie Nelson certainly has worked in more unexpected contexts lately — not least of which was his thoroughly surprising and just as thoroughly enjoyable turn alongside Wynton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center. There have also been other, occasionally unfortunate duets with pop singers, reggae guys, and rappers, too. So, yeah, “Willie and The Wheel,” a recording with Western swing preservationists Asleep at the Wheel, bursts with the warm feelings of homecoming. “Sweet Jennie Lee,” the amusing “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None ‘O This Jelly Roll,” Bob Wills’ familiar “Bring It On Down to My House” and the fiddle-driven “Right Or Wrong,” for instance, follow the larger band’s easy-going syncopations. It’s sweetly nostalgic, lightly grooved, always a great time.

WILLIE NELSON AND WYNTON MARSALIS – LIVE FROM JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER NYC (2008): Settling in with this project, you’re waiting for fresh, sharp angles — and they arrive, but not because the two principals ostensibly come from such different places. They share more common ground than either perhaps came in knowing. Nelson isn’t just a hillbilly picker: “He understands,” Wynton says of Willie at one point during the film, “the whole of the country.” Marsalis, meanwhile, has had great success moving outside the structure of jazz into a grinding blues. More particularly, they both believe, you can see, that it’s not about category so much as soul — in that elemental moment when your heart splashes inside your chest.

SHOWS I’LL NEVER FORGET: WILLIE NELSON AND BOB DYLAN, AUG. 8, 2004: I wasn’t really all that hot on Willie’s band. The whole set had a kind of let’s-run-the-list feel to it. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t fun. Heck, no. They started with “Whiskey River” and then proceeded to play a fricken’ ton of hits. I tend to listen to Red Headed Stranger and Stardust a lot, so I kinda forget just how many tunes Willie has put out there. It was easy to put aside my thoughts on Willie’s band though, as his voice still appeared to be in fine form. I would just love to see him play at one of those dive bars he shows up at in Austin.

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