Chasing the Clear Light: Lukas Nelson on Blowing Away the Clouds of Weed

Growing up in the music scene can make booze and drugs seem like dietary staples
(Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage)

The mind is a vast realm of unexplored creative spaces to be discovered without any drug, country rocker Lukas Nelson tells SPIN IMPACT.

“They are there; they exist,” says the guitarist and lead singer of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real (POTR).

It was during the pandemic that Nelson cleared himself for a journey towards inner clarity, he says: “I quit everything, and I did that with an intention to have mastery over myself … I wanted to be as clear as possible and see what I truly needed in my life and what I didn’t. So I decided to quit everything that I did habitually.”

Weed had originally been a mask, Nelson says: something to cover – even suppress – the depression and anxiety that gripped him in his younger years. “I was so anxious and ridden with preoccupation that I didn’t have the energy to be creative,” he says.

Getting stoned seemed to help, at first. “The weed helped me break free of the patterns … but it was temporary, right? It was only temporary,” says Nelson, who, with POTR, served as Neil Young’s band on recordings and tours from 2015 to 2019.

But getting a perspective on substance use, and calling time on it, can be hard from a life spent inside the music business, says Nelson, son of a little known singer named Willie. “Growing up in the country world, everybody drinks, and then in the rock and roll world everybody smokes weed,” he says. “Or in some cases worse.”

Getting out of it can seem like what you’re meant to do: part of who you’re meant to be, says Nelson: “I had made this sort of false identity surrounding these substances.”

Now, instead of reaching for a high, he runs; he works out; he meditates – he does what brings him, naturally, to “a place of clarity and creativity”.

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