Willie Nelson stops smoking pot, but is still on the road

Willie Nelson, shown above with bassist Don Was, is set to kick off his 2020 winter tour in San Diego on Friday.
(Kevin Wolf / Associated Press)

On the road once again, Willie Nelson is clearing the air at the age of 86, literally.

The country-music icon disclosed in November that — after many decades — he has stopped smoking pot.

“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,” the Texas native told Austin TV station KSAT.

His disclosure came after he withdrew from his summer tour in early August, telling fans in an online post: “I’m sorry to cancel my tour, but I have a breathing problem that I need to have my doctor check out. I’ll be back.”

But Nelson, who in 2015 launched his line of Willie’s Reserve marijuana products, apparently hasn’t given up using pot, just smoking it.

Either way, he remains remarkably active recording (with nearly 20 albums released since 2009) and performing (he resumed touring on Sept. 6). His 2018 concert here at Humphreys with Alison Krauss was a triumph.

Like the Energizer Bunny, the bearded troubadour keeps on ticking, as befits an American music giant who once inspired jazz colossus Miles Davis to compose a memorable piece entitled “Willie Nelson.”

Nelson opens his 2020 winter tour with a Friday concert at San Diego’s Balboa Theatre and has dates booked through late April.

The San Diego show has been sold-out for some time, so you’ll need to be lucky or resourceful to obtain tickets. But what better way to kick off 2020 than by hearing the man who has written so many classic songs perform them in an historic theater that, like Nelson himself, has weathered the years and is still standing high?

Willie Nelson & Family: 7:30 p.m. Friday. Balboa Theatre, 848 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. Sold out. (619) 591-8304.