Willie Nelson has already written a book about his life with
“Willie – An Autobiography,” published in 1988. In his latest hardcover, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me
When I Die – Musings From the Road,” Nelson continues to talk about his days on Earth and his views
of the world, only this time in a more spontaneous and off-the-cuff way.
Needless to say, Nelson has lived an interesting existence. But what is enjoyable about this book is that anytime someone reaches their 70s, life in general will have changed a lot since they were a kid.
Along these lines, years ago, I remember my nephew, Nick, visiting my grandpa in West Virginia, and when he had to use the phone, he was directed to the rotary dialed model in the hallway. He looked at it bewildered, not knowing that you made it work by putting your finger in the number hole and spinning the dial.
That is what you get with some of Nelson’s remembrances of his youth in Texas in the 1930s and ’40s, which come off as politically incorrect at times. Yet his real-life stories give insight into what made him the man and musician he was to become.
For instance, when Nelson was a kid of 10 years, he and his childhood friends would fight bees. Yes, I mean bumblebees.
Says Nelson in the book: “The farmers around Abbott would run into bumblebee nests during the week while they worked in their fields. They would let us know where to go, and eight or ten of us boys would go out and fight the bees. Some days I would come home with both eyes swollen shut from bee stings. What fun we had! We made paddles, sawed out of wooden boxes, that looked like ping pong paddles with holes. One of us would go in and shake the nest and stir up the bees. Then, when the bees were swarming, everyone would start swinging. The bees always headed for your eyes.”
So, that’s what caused the bee shortage.
The book also gives the reader a look into what led Nelson into the music business. Yes, after doing jobs ranging from picking cotton in the hot sun to selling encyclopedias to nearly getting killed while clearing trees from power lines, Nelson would rather play some tunes than dig a ditch. But you also see how his grandparents, who raised him and his sister, Bobbie, put music into their lives.
Nelson also tackles the problems and issues of today in this new collection. There are no chapters, per se, as he simply goes from one musing to the next, and it is, at times, hilarious, as he stays true to himself. He is who he is, and he doesn’t duck it.
And the book features drawings by his son, Micah, as well as short stories told by some of Nelson’s friends and family. This treatise of all things Willie also begins with a wonderful forward by fellow Texan, writer, musician and potential politician Kinky Friedman that is almost worth the price of admission by itself.