Nelson announces book on friendship with drummer
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Nelson announces book on friendship with drummer

Friday, July 1, 2022 – Willie Nelson recounts his relationship with his long-time drummer, the late Paul English, in "Me and Paul: Untold Tales of a Fabled Friendship," out Sept. 20 on Harper Horizon.

Nelson first immortalized English with the humorous road song "Me & Paul." Penned for the drummer in the early 1970s, the song became the title track for Nelson's 1985 studio album. "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," Nelson said.

English was a major figure in Nelson's life and career for 70 years, serving as the steady musical heartbeat in the band to acting as the gun-toting bodyguard and tour accountant who made sure the band got paid for every show.

English died at 87 on Feb. 11, 2020. he pair first played together in Fort Worth in 1955. English became Willie's regular drummer in 1966 and an essential member of the Family. Four of the performances on 2021's "The Willie Nelson Family" - "Heaven and Hell," "Kneel at the Feet of Jesus," "Laying My Burdens Down" and "Family Bible" - are among the last recordings Nelson made with English.

The book includes the rise of Nelson's career from the obscurity of Fort Worth in the 1950s through the clubs of Dallas in 1963 to the challenges of Nashville, the allure of New York and Hollywood (English appeared in Nelson's 1986 movie, "Red Headed Stranger"), launching the Outlaw Country revolution and founding Farm Aid (English served as Farm Aid's treasurer for many years).

According to Nelson, "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."

"In 2020, my closest friend left me. Into the infinite abyss," Willie writes in his introduction. "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."

Nelson wrote "Me and Paul: Untold Tales of a Fabled Friendship" with David Ritz, who collaborated with Nelson 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). Ritz wrote in the preface to the forthcoming book, : "Me and Paul is not straight autobiography. This is something different, a collection of tales - some short, some tall - -told by Willie Nelson and his best friend, Paul English."

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