Incomplete history and Willie Nelson

Fort Worth Weekly did a story on Willie Nelson’s living in Fort Worth in the 1950s.  The writer drove by Willie’s old haunts.

But no pictures? No directions on how to get to the future shrines?  How is the National Register of Historic Places supposed to find the things?

The Weekly was doing what might amount to a local sidebar on Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, Joe Nick Patoski’s biography of the composer and singer.  The Weekly needs to learn a bit about including web links, and especially about including photographs!

(Who’s going to get Patoski’s book, get the addresses, and post photos?)

Accuracy note: I linked to Robert Hilburn’s review of the book in the Los Angeles Times; he has another version of the story of Willie’s first wife, Martha, sewing him in the bedsheets when he came home drunk, then beating him with a broom.  Hilburn’s review is worth reading just to get this story from another view.

2 Responses to Incomplete history and Willie Nelson

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Well, let’s be clear here: I hope a lot of people buy your book (and thanks for dropping by to set things straight).

    I linked to Hilburn’s review not because he was critical — criticism which I thought was misplaced, and which I hope won’t dissuade anyone from buying the book — but because it told Willie Nelson stories, and it was better than linking to Amazon.

    Though, I can see why you might not like that particular link.

    So for other readers, other than you you and me, let me add:

    Buy Patoski’s book. Get the addresses of Willie’s homes and go see for yourself.

    If you want to read an excerpt from the book, The Dallas Morning News ran a lengthy excerpt earlier in 2008, you can read it here. It’s an excerpt that tells about “Red Headed Stranger,” which remains one of my favorite albums of all time. The story, as Patoski tells it, shows Willie as a crusader for good music, a crusader for Texas, a very good judge of talent, and a good friend. It’s a good story, and it suggests Patoski’s book will be a good read all the way through.

    (This year marked Willie’s 75th birthday anniversary — see my post on the birthday, here — with another plug for the book.)

    Texas music is special. There are a lot of varieties. The people who make it often are larger than life in other places. Willie Nelson made a brilliant, far-sighted judgment when he left Nashville for Texas, the place that shaped his music. Nelson has given back to Texas in spades. Every bit of Willie’s journey is a good story. Patoski’s book tells a lot of the stories, as much as can be crammed into one book. There’s a lot more to write, I’m sure. When the full story is known, Patoski will be seen as a key historian and story teller for Willie, and for Texas Music.

    Thanks again for dropping by, Mr. Patoski. What’s your next book?


  2. Hilburn was wrong. Martha Nelson, in a transcript recorded by Willie’s autobiography, explained that the legend about her sewing Willie up in a bedsheet was just that – legend. She didn’t have time to sew him up in a bedsheet, she said. But she did have time to tie him up with jump rope wrapped around the bedsheet. Then she beat him with a broom.

    Hilburn’s review criticized the lack of analysis of each song, which is what he would have done. The whole review suggested he wished he could have written the book. In light of his criticisms, he can still write that book. That’s not the book I set out to write. I don’t do song analysis. I’d rather put the facts on the page and let the reader do their own analysis.


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