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Me and Paul - A Sometimes Crazy New Memoir from Willie Nelson
by Laura Turner Lynch
Willie Hugh Nelson had to pay his dues prior to the success of his albums Shotgun Willie (1973), Red Headed Stranger (1975) and Stardust (1978) which made him a household name. Nelson blends country with other musical genres to craft a sound that is relaxed and described as behind the beat. He has a distinctive singing style and like other great country stars he knows how to tell a good story. Willie was also part of the outlaw country movement that occurred in the late 1960s in revolt against the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books and is an activist for biofuels, farmers and the legalization of marijuana.
Since the mid 1960's, Willie has shared the stage with drummer Paul English (1932-2020). The stickman was immortalized in "Me and Paul" (1971) and that song with a forthcoming book tells the tale of these two men on the road, playing shows, getting into trouble, raising money for good causes and most importantly spreading joy through their music.
Me and Paul written by Willie Nelson and David Ritz reveals the untold stories and unbreakable bond between Willie and his longtime drummer Paul English. As folks will discover Paul was more than just the man behind the kit. First and foremost, English was a true friend who was also a bookkeeper and occasional body guard to the iconic country star. In many ways, Paul was a character in his own right and he chose to wear fancy clothes paired with a cape to cement his image.
In the opening remarks, readers are warned that perhaps some of the tales have been embellished but as we dug into this book the descriptive, witty narrative sounded like the truth or at least close to it. Me and Paul for the most part runs in chronological order. Willie met Paul a fellow Texan in 1955. At that time the well-connected English had a lot of odd jobs some of which were a bit shady.
Willie talks about his years in Nashville explaining that it was a low point in his life but he did learn the art of song craft in Music City. After a fire at his farmhouse in Tennessee, Willie returned to his home state and things started to come together for him especially in Austin where he was embraced by country fans and hippies who often got along because of their shared musical interests.
Paul joined Willie's band in 1966 so they have seen a lot of ups and downs on both a personal and professional level. The book is packed with amusing antidotes and just plain crazy stuff including run-ins with dishonest promoters who English often handled armed with gun. Over many years, they had a lot of good times which sadly came to an end in 2020 when Paul died. Yet, English is still very much alive in this book and in all the great music that he made with Willie during their long friendship.
Set against the backdrop of the exploding Americana music scene and told in Willie's inimitable, colorful style Me and Paul is an engaging and entertaining read that Nelson's fans will greatly appreciate. The book is scheduled to be released September 20, 2022 and is available for pre-order on Willie's website >>> www.willienelson.com
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