As a proud and earnest Texian, I see Willie Nelson as one of the state’s greatest offerings. He captures so well so many of the contradictions inherent in the Texas that I love. Willie loves the Lord, his family, music, smoking, and occasionally kicking some ass. I love all of those things, and I love Willie Nelson, too.
It’s A Long Story is not Willie Nelson’s first book; it’s not even his first autobiography. However, I do think this is the definitive Willie biography. Written in the easy phrasing and cadence of his songs, It’s a Long Story spans 82 two years of Willie’s life, experiences and guiding ideas. I have read some criticism that the book spends too long on Willie’s formative years and therefore not enough on the later years. It is uneven in the time spent on each decade of his life, yes, but it does a good job of explaining how he developed the values and loves of his life and how those loves were lived out. To do that, he had to spend more time on his childhood. Everyone may not agree with the choice of that focus, but it was a logical one.
Besides the content of his songs and his love of pot, I did not know much of his background or ideology. He is an eclectic blend of beliefs and interests. He loves Jesus and is open to gathering ideas from other faiths and philosophie (“I was a believer as a kid, just as I am a believer as a man. I’ve never doubted the genius of Christ’s moral message or the truth of the miracles he performed. I see his presence on earth and resurrection as perfect man as a moment that altered human history, guiding us in the direction of healing love. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve augmented my belief in Jesus with other philosophies that complement his”). He is pro-pot in large part because marijuana suits him much better than whiskey. Whiskey led to lots of brawls and infidelity (“as a rule, drunks do crazy shit”). He is into martial arts and Django Reinhardt. He is a huge music lover and has been friendly with artists that span all genres and several decades. He vapes THC now (“As a kid, I’d sneak off and smoke anything that burned. Loved to smoke. Would even smoke strips of cedar bark. The various substances have changed over the years, but the act itself has never ceased to satisfy me.)
If you are a music fan or are interested in 20th century America, check this book out.