The father had to go through the pain of losing a young son and the beautiful song became an homage to the man who left too soon.
Willie Nelson is known for his soulful voice and fun personality. While he has been entertaining us for decades with his wonderful music, he's suffered some tragic times personally and like a true artist, he expressed it through his art. He lost an important member of his family, who also happened to be a fellow musician. The pain of it devastated him but he still wanted the world to know about the person close to his heart.
Nelson's eldest son, William Hugh Jr., also called Billy Nelson was found dead in his cabin home in Davidson County, Tennessee. As per Countrythangdaily, the reason why he hung himself is not known. The death was ruled as a suicide and he was only 33 years old when he killed himself on Christmas eve in 1991. Losing a child can be one of the hardest things a parent might have to go through.
Nelson Sr. said, "I’ve never experienced anything so devastating in my life." He was in Abbott, Texas, when he was informed about the tragic death, the police told the Journal Times. A spokeswoman, Evelyn Shriver, said right after the incident that he "is very sad and trying to deal with it."
Billy was Willie and his first wife, Martha's son. They had divorced in 1963 and Martha passed away only two years before her son in 1991. One of the reasons for his death could be that Billy had been troubled and had undergone alcohol abuse treatment in 1990, as per the Associated Press.
A week before Billy passed away in 1991, his famous father went to visit him and they were able to spend some time together. "Willie was here in Nashville the week before last and spent some time with Billy, and everyone thought everything was fine," said Bonnie Garner, a spokeswoman for Nelson’s management company, Mark Rothbaum Associates. Talking about how the singer is coping, she said, "Willie’s a firm believer in reincarnation and all of that, you know, so that makes it easier."
However, the father found other ways to keep the memory of his son alive. Billy and Willie had recorded a beautiful gospel song together. Their duet My Body’s Just a Suitcase for My Soul is one of the most precious memories of the young man’s spirit. It has kept him alive even after his death in the hearts of his family members. Three years after Billy passed away, his father released the collaborated gospel album, Peace in the Valley. The album carried the unreleased song sung by the father and son duo. Willie also dedicated the album to his son.
Finishing the album had been hard for Willie, for whom it became a painful reminder of the untimely demise of his son, but having finished it the On the Road Again singer felt a sense of relief, said Countrythangdaily.
The album was re-released in 2015 and this time the duet by the father and song had a video accompanying it. The video is a montage of his child's life and includes many photos of the young man and shows his lively spirit.
The famed country singer now performs with his two other sons, Lukas and Micah. In fact, his talented son, Lukas, songs a lot like his father and may carry the legacy forward. Even though his sons have become musicians like their dad, they didn't always have him around. In fact, that was something which worried Willie. He wanted to be a good dad but he had to be on tour most of the time because of work.
"They had their mother there, and I wasn’t there. So there were those situations, but that’s just the way it is," he told Rolling Stone. However, his sons idolize him and have set a course for themselves that follows his.
"He was breaking down barriers and fearlessly doing his thing … For me, to fearlessly do my thing and be myself, I can’t think of any other way to respect and honor my dad’s legacy." Micah told the magazine.