Willie Nelson is unquestionably a living legend because of his illustrious catalog of music, but he's also legendary for his life story. That's why TIME magazine's feature, '10 Questions for Willie,' to be published in the May 24 issue, is so intriguing. Consider these thoughtful answers from Willie in response to questions apparently sent by the magazine's readers:

Willie on ...

His first time on stage: "The first time I got onstage was when I was about 5 years old. It was at a church social, and I had a poem to recite. I had on a little white sailor suit, and my nose started bleeding. I went up to make my speech, and I put one finger there to stop the bleeding and said, 'If you don't like the looks of me, you can look some other way.' I've never had stage fright since."

Contemporary country music mixed with pop sounds: "In my opinion, it's a little watered down now. The mainstream country music that I hear -- to me, it's not really country, and it's not really anything. So it may be pleasing to the ear, and that's

great, but as far as I'm concerned, it's not country music."

Favorite duet partners: Waylon Jennings and I had a lot of fun recording together. Frank Sinatra, I enjoyed that. We did a couple of commercials together. I got to know him pretty good. He has always been my favorite singer. As far as I'm concerned, the rest of us -- we trot along behind him.

Non-country musical influences: "Ray Charles. He took country music to another level when he did his

country-music album. He was a good buddy, and the story goes that we played chess one time and he kicked my ass pretty good."

Read TIME's other questions for Willie here.

Willie's latest album, 'Country Music,' made its debut at No. 4 on the country albums charts last month.

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