Revealing, funny, whimsical, and wise, outlaw country legend Willie Nelson shares the untold stories behind the his favorite songs, with all the lyrics and a dynamic assortment of never-before-seen photos and ephemera.

From his earliest work in the 1950s to today, Willie looks back at the songs that have defined his career, from his days of earning $50 each to his biggest hits, from his less well-known songs (but incredibly meaningful to him) to his concept albums. Along the way, he also shares the stories of his guitar Trigger, his family and “family,” as well as the artists he collaborated with, including Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Dolly Parton, and many others.

Willie is disarmingly honest—what do you have to lose when you’re about to turn 90? —meditating on the nature of songwriting and finding his voice, and the themes he’s explored his whole life—relationships, infidelity, love, loss, friendship, and, of course, life on the road.

About the author(s)

Willie Nelson is one of the most popular, prolific, and influential songwriters and singers in the history of American music. He has recorded more than one hundred albums over six decades, appeared in several films, and written two New York Times bestsellers: Willie: An Autobiography and The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes.

David Ritz is the author of the acclaimed novels The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn and Blue Notes Under a Green Felt Hat. He is the only four-time winner of the Gleason Book of the Year Award. He's also cowritten the memoirs of many celebrities.

Mickey Raphael, one of the country’s leading harmonica players, has been a member of Willie’s Family band for fifty years. He has performed on hundreds of albums and has served as a producer and arranger.


"[An] irresistible outing . . [Nelson's] intelligence and wisdom shine through . . . Fans will relish these insights into the singer-songwriter's many avatars: the kid growing up poor with close ties to his church and family; the political activist who wrote “Vote ‘Em Out” for Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 senatorial campaign; and the enigmatic, sui generis artist. This is a treasure." — Publishers Weekly

"In a wry narrative shot through with a loopy, stoner spiritualism, the great songwriter and outlaw country artist takes a ramble through his back pages. . . . A lively accompaniment to Nelson's sprawling, genre-crossing, delightful catalog of recordings." — Kirkus Reviews

"[Willie Nelson's] songwriting has consistently been indicative of a born storyteller. It’s fun and, at times, illuminating to read about where some of those stories stemmed from. The photos are great too. . . . A sweet and intimate retrospective of a long and prolific career. This book will make readers feel like they’ve sat down with Nelson, who has just regaled them with tales." — Library Journal

"Throughout this lovely act of looking back and moving forward, Nelson wears his well-worn heart on his sleeve. . . . Willie Nelson's many admirers cross myriad lines, and they will eagerly pursue this chance to get close to their idol." — Booklist

"[R]eflective and thoughtful . . . [Nelson's] commentary is clear, introspective, patient and wise—showing how his 90 years have funneled into a new perspective on his lyricism and canon. The stories read like Willie himself is sitting across the dinner table from you, regaling you of his best stories from years past." — The Tennessean

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