Set for release in September, Willie’s spilling all sorts of secrets and wild stories from the road that he experienced throughout the years with his longtime drummer and best friend, Paul English.
Titled Me and Paul: Untold Tales of a Fabled Friendship, you’ll hear tales straight from Willie about his friend, who he often refers to as a combination bodyguard and guardian angel, and saved him from trouble many times in his career.
Willie has always wanted to share those stories in a long-form book, as he already immortalized his friend back in 1984 with the title track to his 32nd studio album on “Me and Paul,” saying:
“I’ve got this song that begs to be a book and a book that begs to read like a song–a long, romping ballad of sweetness and scandal bridging seven decades of friendship.”
For 70 years, Paul and Willie toured the world together, and Paul was Willie’s right-hand man, making sure the band got paid for every show as the tour accountant, and also, the gun-toting bodyguard keeping everybody safe in all their adventures.
They first played together in Fort Worth, Texas back in 1955, and Paul became Willie’s regular drummer in 1966.
Willie added that their friendship always reminded him of the fictional tales of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, because they were that unbelievable:
“There’s something about my friendship with Paul that reminds me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Tom was more civilized and Huck was wilder.
Although I was plenty wild at age 22, I’d have to say Paul was wilder. Like Tom and Huck, though, we became a team.
Nothing could or would ever separate us. If someone tries to tell my story without putting Paul by my side, don’t bother reading it.”
Paul passed away at the age of 87 in 2020, and Wille wanted a chance to share their bond with the world and why Paul meant so much to him.
They were an inseparable pair, and they were much more than just band members or friends… they were brothers, which Willie shared a little bit about in the introduction to the new book:
“In 2020, my closest friend left me. Into the infinite abyss. The mission of this book is to bring him back…. Why were Paul and I so devoted to each other? Good question. That’s another reason I wrote this book—to show the mystical connection between me and Paul….
It was like I knew him before we ever met. And now that he’s gone, he’s still here. He still knows me. He still lives in my heart and in the hearts of everyone whose lives he touched. Another thing about Paul: I owe him big time. The man saved my life more times than I can remember….
It’s been said that a good friend knows all your best stories, but a best friend has lived them with you. Well, that was us…. In the Willie Nelson Family, he stood in the center. I was the front man of the band, but he was the front man of my life.
He was the papa bear, the big brother, the wise uncle, the money man, the bag man, the dealmaker, the sharpest shooter, and the kindest heart.”
Willie wrote it with help from author David Ritz, who collaborated with him on It’s a Long Story: My Life and Me (2015) and Willie and Bobbie Nelson on Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band (2020).
I can only imagine the trouble this duo got into through the decades together, and this new book is easily at the top of my reading list when it comes out in September.