With more than six decades in the music industry, well over 100 albums, 10 Grammys, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Country Music Hall of Fame induction – add high-profile activism for the legalization of marijuana and hemp, the founding of a groundbreaking philanthropic organization, and a much-publicized personal life – Willie Nelson’s story is like no other. He now shares all, with his memoir IT’S A LONG STORY: MY LIFE (Willie Nelson; Little, Brown; May 5, 2015; $30 hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-316-40355-9).
Nelson grew up in the depths of the Great Depression. He was born in 1933 and raised by his grandparents in the small farm town of Abbott, Texas, population just 300. He began singing in dance halls and honky-tonks at the age of 13 to escape the brutal work of picking cotton in the fields of Texas.
But Nelson was destined for greatness despite the struggles he faced along the way. More than a half-century ago, Nelson found his voice and a devout audience, and firmly established himself as a songwriter. He went on to write some of the most popular and enduring songs of all time, including “On the Road Again,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” “Crazy,” “Night Life,” and “Funny How Time Slips Away,” and to record classics like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “Bring Me Sunshine,” and “Always on My Mind.”
A true American icon, Nelson is just as active today. Still touring the country and headlining music festivals, Nelson and his music have found their way into the hearts and minds of fans all over the world. On the verge of turning 82, Nelson leaves no stone unturned as he shares his full story. From his drive to write music and poetry to the women in his life; from his collaborations to his monumental tax troubles and how he logistically and spiritually prevailed, to the founding of Farm Aid and his recollections of the artists who played and how they raised the consciousness of the entire world-every unforgettable moment is recounted.
Nelson shares his soaring highs and painful lows. Here, you’ll read about the candid history of Nashville in the ’60s, where he failed to fit the mold of the established Nashville Sound, and about his remarkable reinvention in the ’70s, when he moved back to Texas and found a way to forge a musical bond between the hippies and the rednecks, marking the birth of progressive country music. Nelson also delves into his history with alcohol and tobacco abuse, leading to his five-decade-long use of marijuana and his advocacy for its benefits-from meditation to medicine.
A gift for music lovers young and old, IT’S A LONG STORY includes Nelson’s never-before-told stories behind the making of his most successful records: Yesterday’s Wine, Phases and Stages, Shotgun Willie, and Stardust. He also shares memorable portraits of his close friends and collaborators Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price, and Waylon Jennings. He tells road stories about crisscrossing the world with the Highwaymen-Nelson, Jennings, Cash and Kristofferson-as they enriched the world with their powerful brew of American roots music.
Most importantly, IT’S A LONG STORY conveys Nelson’s remarkable legacy-with his authentic, poetic voice shining through on every page. It’s time to hear the definitive word about Nelson’s incredible life story straight from the man himself-the only way this tale should be told.
WILLIE NELSON is an American singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. Nelson divides his time between Austin, Texas, and Maui, Hawaii.
David Ritz is the only four-time winner of the Gleason Music Book Award. He won the 2013 ASCAP Timothy White award for outstanding musical biography for his book with Buddy Guy. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife.