Willie Nelson: Heartworn Memories, by Susie Nelson


Heartworn Memories
A daughter’s personal biography of Willie Nelson
by Susie Nelson

“I wouldn’t want anything to change his loyalty.  He has an enormous capacity for being loyal and, as a consequence, people are loyal to him.  Paul English stuck with Dad through the lean years, selling his rental property and going without pay in order to help Dad follow his dream.  His loyalty and consideration for other extends to everyone around him. 

He is almost apologetic whenever he asks anyone to do something for him.  ‘It’s almost like he works for you,’ his pilot once told me.  He’s still the same appreciative boy from Abbott who used to ask for a ride to the baseball game in West.

In a way, Dad has never left Abbott, never forgotten where he came from.  He still drops in on his boyhood friends from Abbott, and he still remembera and keeps in touch with all of the folks who helped him on his way up.

Of course he has never lost his touch with the fans.  He will sign autographs as long as there is anybody asking for one.  He has said over and over again that he can’t understand performers who think they are bigger than their fans, who won’t sign autographs, who cut the shows short or don’t even show up.  ‘I always figure that if my audience shows up, I ought to show up too,’ he says.

The size of the audience doesn’t make any difference.  He’ll put on the same show for one person crowded around the bandstand as he will for 70,000 screaming fans.

Dad is an extraordinarily popular figure, a hero and an idol to millions around the world.  Very few people in history have the kind of following that Dad has.  For some people, going to one of Dad’s concert is like a religious experience.

I think the source of his great and enduring appeal is the fact that he truly believes that in the grand design of the universe, he is no more important, no more unique, no better than any other individual human being on the planet.  He communicates a true belief in equality, in tolerance, that we are all in this together.  That’s what his music is all about.  And that sums Dad up about as well as any I’ve heard.

Paul English tells a story that sums Dad up about as well as any I’ve heard.

After a concert, a woman came up to Dad, ‘I met you in San Antonio five years ago,’ she told him, ‘but I don’t suppose you remember me.’ 

‘No, I’m sorry, but I don’t,’ he answered, ‘but I sure appreciate you remember me.’

That’s my dad.  And I love him.”

— Susie Nelson

6 Responses to “Willie Nelson: Heartworn Memories, by Susie Nelson”

  1. Joe Murphy says:

    Susie, I have been looking for your address in the Austin area. I have a nice picture of my brother, Robert Murphy that I would like to send to you. Robert adored both you and your dad. I would love to meet you both, but I am getting old and inferm and it is not easy to get out and about any more. My nephew Michael Aaron Murphy says that when he was ten years old, he was hoping that you and his dad, Mike Murphy, would get married, then he would have TWO wonderful mothers….but that dumb Mike let you go. Pretty dumb, eh? Much love to you and your family. Whenever I was In Austin with Robert, he often got a call from your young daughter (young then) trying to get Robert to help her persuade you to get something she wanted from you. I thought that was funny… Robert sure loved your kids. He loved you too. (Robert is gone now.) Much love to y’all…

    Joe Murphy
    247 East Hersey St.
    Ashland, OR 97520

  2. LindaLee says:

    I forwarded your note. I don’t know how to get in touch with Susie, Joe. I hope your message reaches her.

  3. Sam Mallet says:

    From Australia, Hello Susie,
    Thank you so much for your gift of “Willie Nelson:HeartWorn Memories” – complete with your original autograph – mailed to me by Debbi Davenport.
    I am as much touched by the honesty of your work as I am by the love and respect you show for your father. I don’t know of any daughters that have written so passionately about an, unfortunately, often absent father. The form of the story is quite original, being both biographical and autobiographical, and the narrative very well led in terms of chronological integrity and yet not just a “blow by blow” account. Very entertained by the way events/anecdotes are either anticipated, or recuperated/revised in order to give more dynamic to the present timeZone on the page. You also, along the way shed an almost encyclopedic light on the music making & social scenes of 2 generations. As a music composer, I respect the tenacity and breadth of your literary achievement, and look forward to some correspondence with you.
    Over 2 decades after publication, you ought to be even prouder now of your work, given that your Dad still IS and still MOVING . . . God Bless.
    With love,

  4. Sam Mallet says:

    Hello Linda Lee,
    Thank you for managing this site. I wrote a note (above) to Susie Nelson about her fascinating biographical account of growing up as Wilie Nelson’s daughter. It doesn’t seem that she has had any other work published, and i would very much appreciate further email or mail correspondence from her. Please pass this message on to Susie.
    My address : 47 Chelmsford Street, North Williamstown, Victoria 3016, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA.
    Email : samalama@ozemail.com.au
    Thank you Linda, and all the best,

  5. LindaLee says:


    Thank you for your kind words. Susie Nelson does not have an e-mail address, and I don’t know her mailing address. I think your best bet would be to go to Willie Nelson’s website, http://www.willienelson.com, and send her a message through one of the e-mail addresses listed there, or post your message for her there to read. I don’t know if she ever reads this blog or not, but I am sure her family would be happy to get your message to her through Willie’s website. All the best, Linda

  6. Coleen Humble says:

    Hello Susie, I think of you and Rebecca often (who came very close to being born on my living room floor, remember?). I was dumbfounded when the base hospital sent you home and you came next door to me in tears. Praise God all turned out well. It was a very close call.

    Allen, Jennifer and I are doing quite well, although I am a 65 year old lady now, no longer in our lovely 20’s.
    I pray life has treated you and Rebecca well.
    Always love you,

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