It's A Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson

“Memories remind us that every moment of our lives, even the most tragic, have contributed to our strength. We’ve gotten through. We’re still here.” 

Despite living in Texas for my entire life, I can't claim to be a country music aficionado. I've heard my fair share of the genre, but I've never really taken much interest in its history. Still, there's no denying the appeal of some of the music. When I was in high school, I was fortunate to sit front row for a Willie Nelson concert. I never expected to connect with his music the way I did! There was honesty in every note he played and every word he sang. In his book It's A Long Story: My Life, Willie provides some insights and anecdotes of his storied career. 

Willie is the first to admit that he is difficult to place in a box. In fact, his vocal quirks and varying stylistic influences made him nearly impossible to sell during the first part of his career. He writes about the ways that his early record companies tried to produce him the same way they did other top selling country stars. The sweet strings and background vocals simply did not gel with Willie's singing. It wasn't until a producer allowed him to record the way he played his live shows that Willie found true commercial success. 

Willie's writing comes off as if he were right there with you telling a story. The book takes on a kind of folksy quality that reads more like a conversation than a history lesson. The timeline is framed by Willie's unfortunate run in with the IRS during the 90's. As he narrates through his childhood in Abbot, Texas all the way through to present day, this tax incident continues to interrupt the story and remind us that all that we are reading is leading to this event. I found this to be rather out of place. It seemed more like the publisher or editor was trying to give some kind of structure to the story that didn't need to be there. 

As I read through the book, I realized that Willie Nelson is a man of contradictions. He loved his family but cheated on his wives. He has a deep devotion to the methodist church, but played in sinful beer joints and swears by the healing qualities of marijuana. The list goes on and on. Whatever your opinion of the man, there is no denying that these inconsistencies make Willie a fascinating character. He is an imperfect man in an imperfect world who is driven to make his mark on the world through his music. 

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and GoodReads

(2016, 13)

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2 Responses to “It's A Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson”

  1. I too grew up in TX and didn't really get into country music. Just the bigger stars I guess. Nelson is quite interesting though because he has brought country music more into the main stream. I live in Colorado so marijuana isn't a big deal and everyone around here swears it heals them or whatever. To each their own. I bet that was a great concert!

    1. It was a great concert! I totally agree that Nelson is able to fit himself into any genre. It really speaks to the power of a great musician.


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