Willie Nelson has a new book out, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road, bringing his total to four, including one autobiography. Roll Me Up follows along with The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart and The Facts of Life: and Other Dirty Jokes in form and lives up to the subtitle, “Musings from the Road.” It’s an interesting amalgam of song lyrics, autobiographic bits, jokes (dirty and otherwise), and journal entries. There are some funny stories and some touching stories. and there are a few rants concerning the killing of family farms, legalizing marijuana, and God.
Two parts that stood out to me were when he talked about his bass players, Bee Spears and Chris Ethridge, who both played with him separately and for a brief time, together. Both pickers passed as he was writing the book and he talks about each and shares a little about their life on the road. At nearly 80 years old, Willie has seen several of his friends pass. Even though the humor continues in the book to the end, I continued the book with a more somber reading that was reinforced by the short passages written by his family and close friends. The final chapter of the book is filled with writings by his children and I couldn’t help but to read it as almost like a memorial. I wish Willie many more years, though.
But don’t get me wrong, the book’s not one big downer after another. Maybe it was just my mood on that day, I don’t know. There are several stories in the book that made me laugh out loud. Though some of the stories have been recounted elsewhere, I still enjoy hearing him tell about hanging out with Roger Miller, or playing in Ray Prices band, or being in the Highwaymen. He does a fair bit of bragging on his kids, as might be expected of a proud papa and grandpapa with talented offspring.
If you are a Willie fan, and I don’t know why you’d be reading the book if you weren’t, he does mention two projects that are slated for release. One is a double album with Leon Russell and the other is an album with Ray Price. Of course he has recorded with both of them in the past, but both sound like promising releases.