Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

“Jimmy’s Song”

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

The Facts of Life: and Other Dirty Jokes
by Willie Nelson

“I wrote ‘Jimmy’s Song’ when my friend and bass player, David Zettner, was drafted into the army during the Viet Nam War.  I could have called it ‘David’s Song,’ but ‘Jimmy’s Road’ sounded more euphonious.  Thank you, Chet Atkins, for that big word.  He said that one time about some line I had written.  At the time I didn’t know what it meant — words that go together — but I said, ‘Alright Chet, thanks.’  I was relieved to find out later it was a good thing.”

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving to me”

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

When people ask me which of the songs Ive written are my favorites, “Still is Still Moving” always comes up near the top of the list. The band and I play it at almost every concert, and I’ve recorded it countless times, as well, so you have got to figure the song means something important to me.

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the song is me.

Whether you look at the song from the point of view of ancient philosophies or from the modern knowledge of quantum physics, there is great motion in all stillness, and true stillness at the heart of all action.

The early Chinese philosophers referred to hits in the concept of something called wu wei, which suggests fulfilling every task with the least necessary action. Two notes are not required when one will suffice. Twenty words may not say something better than ten, or one. For me, that word is stillness.

No matter how still I am, the world around me is abuzz with activity, and the world within me as well. Modern physics tells us that the atoms in our body ” and all the particles and forces that make up those atoms ” are never at rest. While our bodies and the world around us seem solid, that physical appearance is merely an illusion, for each of our atoms is comprised primarily of empty space.

If your life in this modern world seems to pass you by at the speed of light, perhaps you could consult Einstein, who proved that the faster we travel, the more time is compressed. That’s right, the faster we go, the less time we have. So what is your hurry?

This may not mean much to you, but it must be quite traumatic for the atoms. Would you like to hear an atom joke? I didn’t think so, but here is one anyway:

A neutron went into a bar and says, “How much for a beer?”

The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”

The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

The Tao of Willie Nelson
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” Willie Nelson

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

“No one knows you like your sister,” — Willie Nelson

Monday, September 28th, 2020

From music legends and activists Willie Nelson and Bobbie Nelson, an uplifting story about an unbreakable sibling bond.

Posted by Random House on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Willie and Bobby Nelson on Today Show and Jimmy Fallon — TOMORROW!

Monday, September 14th, 2020

Willie and Bobbie Nelson will be on NBC’s Today Show tomorrow morning, September 15th, and then tomorrow night they will appear on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. They will be discussing their new memoir: Me and Sister Bobbie.

NEW YORK – From legendary Grammy award-winning country singer Willie Nelson and his sister, Family band member Bobbie Nelson, comes ME AND SISTER BOBBIE: TRUE TALES OF THE FAMILY BAND, a heartfelt memoir of the lifelong bond between Willie and his only sibling Bobbie, who tells her own incredible story here for the first time. After being abandoned by their parents as very young children and becoming each other’s abiding relationship for more than  eight decades, this dual memoir, told in alternating chapters, weaves together Willie and Bobbie’s journeys as they experienced them both side-by-side and apart, with powerful, emotional never-before-told recollections from their personal lives and careers.

Through dizzying highs and traumatic lows, ME AND SISTER BOBBIE shows that nobody knows you like your family. ME AND SISTER BOBBIE was edited by Executive Editor Ben Greenberg and will be published on September 15, 2020 as a Random House Hardcover.

NEW YORK – From legendary Grammy award-winning country singer Willie Nelson and his sister, Family band member Bobbie Nelson, comes ME AND SISTER BOBBIE: TRUE TALES OF THE FAMILY BAND, a heartfelt memoir of the lifelong bond between Willie and his only sibling Bobbie, who tells her own incredible story here for the first time.

Me and Sister Bobbie: True tales of the family band

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Pre-order book here.

The untold story of Willie Nelson and his sister, Bobbie, who, over the course of their lives together, supported each other through personal tragedies and triumphs and forged an unbreakable bond through their shared love of music.

Abandoned by their parents as toddlers, Willie and Bobbie Nelson found their love of music almost immediately through their grandparents, who raised them in a small Texas town. Their close relationship—which persists today—is the longest-lasting bond in both their lives.

In alternating chapters, this heartfelt dual memoir weaves together both their stories as they experienced them side by side and apart. The Nelsons share powerful, emotional moments from growing up, playing music in public for the first time, and facing trials in adulthood, as Willie pursued songwriting and Bobbie faced a series of challenging relationships and a musical career that took off only when attitudes about women began to change in Texas. The memoir is Bobbie’s first book, and in it she candidly shares her life story in full for the first time. Her deeply affecting chapters delve into her personal relationships and life as a mother and as a musician with technical skills that even Willie admits surpass his own. In his poignant stories, Willie shares the depth of his bond with his sister, and how that bond carried him through his most troubled moments. Willie and Bobbie have supported each other through unthinkable personal heartbreak, and they’ve always shared in each other’s victories. Through dizzying highs and traumatic lows, spanning almost nine decades of life, Willie and Bobbie have always had each other’s back.

Their story is an inspiring, lyrical statement of how family always finds the way.

New Willie Nelson and Bobbie Nelson Memoir, “Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of The Family Band”

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

NEW YORK – From legendary Grammy award-winning country singer Willie Nelson and his sister, Family band member Bobbie Nelson, comes ME AND SISTER BOBBIE: TRUE TALES OF THE FAMILY BAND, a heartfelt memoir of the lifelong bond between Willie and his only sibling Bobbie, who tells her own incredible story here for the first time.

After being abandoned by their parents as very young children and becoming each other’s abiding relationship for more than  eight decades, this dual memoir, told in alternating chapters, weaves together Willie and Bobbie’s journeys as they experienced them both side-by-side and apart, with powerful, emotional never-before-told recollections from their personal lives and careers.

Through dizzying highs and traumatic lows, ME AND SISTER BOBBIE shows that nobody knows you like your family. ME AND SISTER BOBBIE was edited by Executive Editor Ben Greenberg and will be published on September 15, 2020 as a Random House Hardcover.

Additionally, a picture book by Willie and Bobbie Nelson, written with Chris Barton, tentatively titled Sister, Brother, Family: Our Childhood in Music, to be edited by Frances Gilbert, Editor-in-Chief of Doubleday Books for Young Readers, will be published in Fall 2021.

“It’s a Long Story: My Life”, by Willie Nelson

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Willie Nelson: A Graphic History

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

by: T.J. Kirsch, author, and
Illustrators: Havard Johansen, Coskun Kuzgun, Jesse Lonergan, Jeremy Massey, Jason Pittman, Adam Walmsley, J. T. Yost.

Since he was a child in Hill County, Texas, he has been writing and performing for adoring crowds. Though his mainstream success did not come until later in his life, he has been determined to take his unique sound and voice to the people even before he was a household name.

There have been tragedies, missteps, IRS troubles, good times and bad along the way, but Willie continues to shine his positive outlook and project his humble voice out into the world. In this graphic novel biography, all the chapters represent a different era of his life and struggles – each illustrated by a unique indie comics talent.

You can pre-order a copy at Amazon for $19.99.

Willie Nelson and Bobby LiPuma

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020
by: Bobby Moore

Jazz Producer Tommy LiPuma’s Biography Tells Story About Willie Nelson

Jazz shapes the music of Willie Nelson, from his long-established appreciation for guitarist Django Reinhardt to his albums of standards. Those albums go beyond Stardust and include American Classic, a jazz-heavy 2009 collection produced by Tommy LiPuma.

American Classic included a re-recording of Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” plus duets with Diana Krall and Norah Jones. Any collection of older songs reinterpreted by Nelson hits the spot, be it this album or the following year’s roots music survey Country Music.

As for LiPuma, the Cleveland, Ohio native won five Grammy awards while working with the likes of Miles Davis, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Dave Mason, the Sandpipers, Natalie Cole, the O’Jays, Randy Newman, Leon Russell and Dr. John.

LiPuma, who passed away in 2017 at age 80, is the subject of jazz musician Ben Sidran’s recent book The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma.

“His experience encapsulates the modern recording industry,” Sidran says of LiPuma in a press release. “You can see the evolution of the way music was captured and recorded and distributed, how it evolved, and the impact of the technologies and the marketing strategies. You can read his story and get all that information just because of who he was and where he was, at exactly the right time.”

Sidran’s celebration of an American music master, released on May 5 by Nardis Books, includes the following excerpt about LiPuma’s working relationship with Nelson. As you might suspect, it’s part musical history lesson, part tale about smoking weed with Willie.

Willie Nelson and Tommy LiPuma, from The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma

Bruce Lundvall, the president of Blue Note Records, asked Tommy if he was interested in doing an album with Willie Nelson. “I loved Willie’s standards album,” says Tommy, “and my first thought was to use Joe Sample–like Willie, Joe is from Texas–so Joe and I went to Austin to spend a day at Willie’s ranch. How shall I put this? It’s a place of ultimate highness. It’s not like it’s over the top, but every so often, Willie’s got this smoking contraption that’s on a stand and he fires it up. Willie is high most of the day and into the night.

“We spent a whole day going through tunes. He was right there with us, and he was just great. He has a real ‘standards’ aesthetic. He really knows this stuff upside down, backwards and forwards.

“And at one point, when we had gone through all the tunes, he said, ‘Come on, lemme show you around the ranch.’ Willie’s got several hundred acres; there’s what looks like a Hollywood set on the property. We got into his truck and the first stop we made was this little church that looked like it was right out of the 1880s, pews and all. Then we got back in the truck and we ended up at what looked like a Western town, with a saloon with swinging doors, the whole thing. We went in and there were all his pals sitting around drinking beer.

“He’s got a lot of very interesting buddies. Not just the guys who were there drinking beer. At one point, I got thirsty and I said, ‘You got any water back there?’ He said, ‘Right over there,’ so I took a glass, and man the water tasted great! I made a remark, because there was no bottle on top of it, like at a water cooler, it was just coming from a pipe straight out of the wall. I said, ‘Is this your tap water?’ and he said a friend of his invented this thing that grabs the moisture out of the atmosphere and turns it into pure drinking water. Willie’s got some hip friends.”

A few months later, Willie, Tommy, and Joe all met up in New York at Right Track Studios, where they had a big studio for the band and a nice little isolation booth for Willie. Willie’s booth was connected directly to the control room, and of course wherever Willie goes, his pipe goes with him. You couldn’t enter the vocal booth unless you were willing to have an attitude adjustment.

Willie had parked his tour bus in front of the studio on Forty- eighth Street, and when he wasn’t recording, he would hang out there. He also slept on the bus. After a couple of days, somebody called Tommy and said, “Check out page six.” Tommy opened the ‘Daily News’ and read, “Willie Nelson is apparently in town recording an album at a studio on 48th Street. You can tell from the wafts of smoke coming out of this bus as you walk down the street.'” Pretty soon, Tommy was hanging out on the bus too, using Willie’s sound system to check out the recordings. By the recording’s conclusion, Tommy and Willie were like two old shoes.

“The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in your Heart” released (May 9, 2006)

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

On May 9, 2006, Gotham Books released “The Tao Of Willie: A Guide To The Happiness In Your Heart.” Willie Nelson co-wrote the book with Turk Pipkin.

The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart (Unabridged)
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

The funny thing about advice is that no matter how good it is, most people are gonna do what they want anyway. That’s why my general philosophy has been never to miss an opportunity to shut up. So now that I’m writing a book in which I’m constantly giving advice, I must remind you to read the warning label on my bottle of wisdom.

Because something works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you, especially in large doses.

When a doctor prescribes a medicine, he doesn’t suggest you take the whole bottle, and neither does my part-time gynecologist alter ego, Doctor Booger Nelson.

Speaking of Doctor Nelson, did you hear about the woman who was such a fan of country music that she has a tattoo of Merle Haggard done in a very delicate spot, high on her right thigh, and a tattoo of Waylon Jennings high on the other other thigh.

Worried that the two tattoos weren’t recognizable, she slips off her undies, lifts her skirt to a guy in a bar, and says, “Can you tell who that is?”

So the guy puts on his glasses, looks real close, and says, ” I don’t know who those other two guys are, but the one in the middle is Willie Nelson!”

Willie Nelson in Mother Earth News (May/June 1987)

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Mother Earth News
May/June 1987
Farm Aid’s Founder:  Willie Nelson
Patrick Carr

It’s midwinter in Tampa, Florida, and as usual the weather is warm going on stifling.  Willie Nelson really needs the air conditioner humming peacefully in his mobile home away from home, the Silver Eagle Honeysuckle Rose.

In his own, quiet, careful way, Willie’s all business today.  Waiting in the cool, dark comfort of the bus for the horde of people his presence will draw to town tonight, he’s working hard:  poring over snapshots of himself and his sister Bobbie outside the Abbott, Texas, church in which they learned to sing, for the cover of a genuine hard-core Christian mail-order gospel album; making little decisions about the set he and his band of honky-tonk gypsies will play tonight; ordering up a carefully nutritious chicken dinner from the kitchen bus that travels with his five-vehicle caravan, then forgetting to eat it; talking business with little haste or waste of words or energy, on the radio telephone at his elbow.

The business concerns the usual megastar matters — movie promotion, investment opportunities, the touring schedule, a $1.5 million book contract — but also something seemingly out of place in this context:  the Farm Aid cause, Mr. Nelson’s foray into public service.  Cocooned amid Tampa’s concrete consumerism, the former Bible salesman, and latter-day multimillionaire is taking time to help the family farmers of his country fight back against government policy, big business and the economics of scale.

There is something rather special about Willie Nelson.  It was he, after all, who united the rednecks and the hippies and the surburbanites of the 1970s in appreciation of a style of country music considered both archaic and impossibly uncommercial by the Nashville powers-that-were.  Likewise his image — a lovely blend of longhair, cowboy, rebel, hardcore party legend and wise old man — is suggestive.

It’s no wonder he’s such an institution.  You can look up to some entertainers (Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney), but Willie invites involvement, not distance.  The dominant element of his stare — a thoroughly savvy serenity — is mighty trustworthy.

That invitation to trust must have been part of his image all along.  Certainly it was during his late teenage years, when he was already trying to get ahead in the world by promoting dance concerts throughout east Texas, earning his percentage from acts like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Milton Brown and the Brownies, Spade Cooley, and the legendary Ernest Tubb while he watched from the wings and learned the ropes.  It also impressed the folks in the Nashville big leagues after Willie had decided to forgo his studies for the Baptist ministry in favor of a full-time career in the hillbilly highway nightlife; you need a lot more than even the kind of devastating song-writing talent Willie possesses to become a primary source for the Music Row hit machine the way he did in pretty short order.  And when eventually his ambitions outstripped what Nashville was willing to offer and he made his legendary end-run around Music Row, his aura so impressed the college hippies of Austin, texas, that not too long after he’d been among them they began to buy posters proclaiming, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and Willie,” and to enshrine them in their places of fun and meditation.

A Nashville executive describes his experience:  “It was amazing, just wonderful,” says the Nashville executive.  “I’ve never seen anything like it.  Neil Reshen (Willie’s manager) was so bad — I mean, you really wanted to have the man arrested; the secretaries used to run for the bathroom when he showed up.  But when you talked to Willie, it was like negotiating with Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and you were so relieved you didn’t have to deal with Neil that you gave Willie whatever he wanted.  But, of course, what Neil wanted and what Willie wanted were the same things.  They were working the good cop, bad cop routine, the oldest con in the world, but they did it so well you didn’t realize what was going on till it was all over.  And by then you’d done a deal you’d never have even dreamed of otherwise.  Willie just outplayed me, and he ended up getting what he really deserved.  And all that means is he’s smarter than I am.  He just has to turn that smile on you, and you’re hooked.  But now I take him seriously.  He may be beautiful, but he’s not dumb.”

Such a man — with his hard-earned combination of country compassion, common sense and carefully honed business skills – would have been the perfect choice if American farmers had gone looking for a leader in their hour of need.  That’s not how it happened, though.  It was Willie who went unbidden to the farmers.

September 1985 was when it began, in Champagne, Illinois, as a notion kicked around between Willie and his crew in the wake of Bob Geldof’s Life Aid marathon.  As Willie recalls, in the low-to-vanishing key for which he is renowned, “I have no idea how it got started.  I was just sitting in the bus….”

Like a large proportion of the projects Willie judges worthy, the 14-hour Farm Aid benefit moved from the idea to action with little further ado.  It was set up with minimum fuss and executed with slightly less toll and craziness than usually attends a mammoth outdoor music festival featuring multiple major entertainers.  (Which figures.  After more than a decade of organizing and hosting his legendary Fourth of July picnics, Willie is perhaps the world’s premier mastermind of such events.)   When it was all over — when Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, Alabama, Billy Joel, Kris Kristofferson, Bon Jovi, Joni Mitchell, Waylon Jennings, Kenny Rogers, Neil Young, Merle Haggard, John Cougar Mellencamp and some 45 other acts had done their thing and the TV viewers who watched them had sent in their donations — Willie and his crew suddenly found themselves in temporary possession of a great deal of donated money.

That came as something of a shock.  “I figured people would respond,” says Willie, “but not nearly as well as they did, and as all that money started rollin’ in, I had to rethink my position.  I realized I had to do a lot more than make some calls and go out and sing.  My name was attached to that money, so by necessity I had to take responsibility and decide that I would be the one who writes the checks.  So that’s what happens, nothing goes out without my signature on it.  And so far, I know that every quarter of that money has gone to benefit the family farmer in some way.”

After Farm Aid One in Illinois and Farm Aid Two, held in Austin on the Fourth of July, 1986, the approximate total for which Willie has taken responsibility is $14 million.

And Willie doesn’t just sign the checks, he approves them.

“He makes the final decision,” says Caroline Mugar, the director of Farm Aid (Willie is Chairman of the Board).  “We just do the research on what’s going on, who’s doing what where, what they hope to do and how they’ve used the money they’ve already gotten, and we make recommendations.  Then Willie decides.”

“It’s a Long Story: My Life”, by Willie Nelson (in Stores May 5, 2015)

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Willie Nelson: The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes”

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Atlantic City Press
by Robert Digiacomo

Willie Nelson likes telling jokes. He’s included plenty of them in his new book “The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes” (Random House), a sequel of sorts to his autobiography “Willie.”

“The Facts of Life” is a compilation of anectdotes from the road, song lyrics surveying Nelson’s career, and, of course, his jokes, which fall into basic categories: dirty, as the book’s title suggests, and the dumb blond variety.

The bearded, ponytailed singer/songwriter — as well known in the last decade for his Farm Aid benefits and tax battles with the Internal Revenue Service as for his music — wasn’t worried about offending his readers, though.

“I was married to a blond for a long time and I have a blond daughter,” says Nelson, who is appearing at 7 p.m., Sunday, January 27 at the Tropicana. “Most of the blond jokes I’ve heard from them. I don’t think the blondes are offended. I don’t think they get half of them.”

All joking aside, Nelson, who has written the lyrics to ‘Crazy,’ ‘Hellow Walls,’ ‘On the Road Again’ and ‘Always on My Mine,’ among hundreds of others, uses the book’s 202 pages most effectively as a showcase for his songwriting.

“I think songs on paper — words on paper without the melodies — have a different impact and a different impression,” says Nelson, who was recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “I wanted to see if mine came off just as well…. as they did with melodies.”

For his newly released album “The Great Divide” (Lost Highway) though, nelson took a different tack. He wrote only the title cut, choosing instead to record a collection of songs by other writers.

The album has been likened to Santana’s ‘Supernatural’ in its multigenerational assemblage of behind-the-scenes talent.

Among its 12 cuts are three songs by matchbox twenty’s Rob Thomas, who co-wrote the hit ‘mooth’ for Santana, as well as tune by longtime Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin and Cyndi Lauper (a cover of ‘Time After Time’).

Making guest appearances are Sheryl Crow, Lee Ann Womack, Kid Rock, Brian McKnight, Alison Krauss and Bonnie Raitt.

“It was all part of the information I had — it’s hard to disregard a guy who just sold 10 million albums,” Nelson says of his working with Rob Thomas. “Naturally, that was there, but it wasn’t the main reason I did it. I like the way he produced and what he did with matchbox twenty. It wasn’t just for the Santana success, but that was in the corner of my mind.”

The Country Music Hall of Famer says he relied heavily on producer Matt Serletic to assemble the writers and material.

“I tried not to get in his way,” Nelson says. “I believe if you have enough faith in a guy to say ‘produce me,’ you ought to let him do it. I looked forward to seeing what those guys would come up with.”

Despite the mix of writers, the album manages to make a personal statement about reaching a certain stage in your life.

“I think a lot of the songs have to do with the more mature audience,” Nelson says. “There’s a lot fo songs like ‘This Face’ and ‘Recollection Phoenix’ that are talking about everyone aging a little bit.”

‘This Face’ is especially poignant, opening with: ‘This face is all I hav worn n and lived in/Lines beneath my eyes, they’re like old friends/ and this old heart’s been beaten up/ My ragged soul, it’s had things rough. In fact, the emotions were so raw that Nelson wasn’t sure he wanted to record it.

“I wasn’t sure it might be calling too much attention to something, or people might think I was going for sympathy or something,” he explains.

Given the tilt of some of the material, Nelson’s label has high expectations the album will reach beyond a country audience to achieve crossover success.

For his first collection of new material in five years, Nelson has switched labels within Universal, from Island Def Jam to Lost Highway.

The new label not too coincidentally also released the hugely successful soundtrack to the move “O Brother, Where Art Though.”

“I wasn’t sure about it,” Nelson says of the change. “They convinced me Lost Highway was a good label. I started hearing good things about them. They had done the ‘O Brother Where Art Though’ record. Well, I said, ‘nothing wrong with that’ — it was like the Santana thing.”

The new label’s enthusiastic backing has helped to gain crucial radio support for Nelson, who, along with Waylon Jennings and Tompall Glaser, in the 1970s became known as one of country’s outlaws — traditional country artists who were ignored by the Nashville establishment.

“I think it’s a compliment to be called an outlaw, a guy trying to be independent and do his own thing,” says Nelson, whose first single is the duet ‘Mendocino County Line’ with Womack. “I know there’s a lot of them out there trying to do it. The opposition is probably as strong today or maybe stronger than when I first started singing.”

“I’ve been talking the last week to countles country music radio stations — they’re all waiting for The Great Divide, and I expect it will get more play. This is one of those cases where the record company is really behind it.”

Having yet another new release makes choosing his set list for his live shows that much more difficult.

And there’s likely to be more Nelson music in the near future — the versatile performer has four other albums in the can: reggae and jazz releases, as well as tribute albums to Hank Williams and Ray Price.

“Every night I do a lot of the older songs and a lot of newer song,” Nelson says. “When I do an album, I add them to the show. I have to figure out where to drop. It’s always hard to decide.”

Willie Nelson, “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020