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Willie Nelson: An Epic Life | Reviews

Read my MVP Q&A with Mickey Raphael. You can read a chapter from the book. [ Chapter 1, 2, 3 ]

Order Willie Nelson: An Epic Life from Amazon here.


4 Star Review in American Songwriter by Holly Gleason

American Way: Always on His Mind The product of several years of intense research, Patoski's nearly 500-page opus charts the breadth of Nelson's 75 years, from the depths of his hardscrabble upbringing to the peaks of his fame to his falls -- numerous falls -- from grace. Patoski effectively captures Nelson's transformation from struggling songwriter to American musical icon. But more importantly, he shows what Nelson's career has meant to Nelson's and Patoski's native state: Texas. By Bob Mehr

CMT News: Nashville Skyline: What Would Willie Nelson Do? by Chet Flippo

Creative Loafing: The red-headed wild-ass by John Grooms

Dallas Morning News: New Willie Nelson biography offers intimate details but light on revelations by Mario Tarradell

Entertainment Weekly: Freewheeling Willie Willie Nelson fans will have their blue eyes cryin' in the rain -- with joy -- over the arrival of such a richly reported bio. Willie might be the least conflicted hero in biographical history, once he trades being a ''bad drunk'' for placid pot and metaphysics. (When he cries after a snub from girlfriend Amy Irving, it's practically his only vulnerable moment in 500 pages.) But despite Joe Nick Patoski's reluctance to psychoanalyze his beatific subject in Willie Nelson, there are scores of funny firsthand stories in his account of how a ramshackle hillbilly career sparked an unlikely convergence of redneck, hippie, and Hollywood culture. B+ By Chris Willman

Los Angeles Times: How the boy from a hardscrabble Texas town became a country music icon. By Robert Hilburn

The Village Voice: "Willie Nelson's Trigger Cuts: Shotgun Willie gets the respect he deserves" by Michael Hoinski

San Antonio Express-News: "Biography tackles larger-than-life Willie Nelson" by Steve Bennett

Rolling Stone: "Excellent... Patoski, who's been writing Willie's story for thirty-five years for publications ranging from Texas Monthly to Rolling Stone, seamlessly weaves together the good, the bad and the ugly to form a three-dimensional portrait of the singer.... For Nelson, his hit 1980 single 'On the Road Again' isn't just a silly song he wrote for the movie Honeysuckle Rose--it's literally the story of his life. And Patoski has fleshed it out beautifully."

Publishers Weekly: This impressive, entertaining chronicle of Willie Nelson's life is replete with exactly what you'd expect--honky-tonk, long nights on the open road, whiskey, womanizing and weed--but Texas writer Patoski (Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire, Texas Mountains) looks beyond country music trappings to find the funny, talented, determined man who became an unlikely icon. Raised in Abbott, Texas, by impoverished grandparents, Nelson was writing songs about "love, betrayal and cheating" by the age of seven, but was told throughout his life that he couldn't sing, play or keep a beat. As an adult, Nelson worked odd jobs--encyclopedia salesman among them--while selling songs in Nashville; he had an early hit in 1961 with Patsy Cline's "Crazy," and soon began recording for RCA. Fourteen albums later, "with not much to show," Nelson fled to Austin, Texas, a move many viewed as career suicide; instead, it was a launching pad to stardom, propelled by the up-and-coming hippie movement and the strength of his groundbreaking album Red Headed Stranger. Patoski conducted over a hundred interviews for this thorough, well-noted "epic," peopling it with "pickers, gypsies, pirates, vagabonds, wanderers and carneys," including fellow performers like Kris Kristofferson, Kinky Friedman and Leona Williams. Writing with an affectionate country twang, Patoski gives his subject the consideration he deserves in a fine, fluid piece of storytelling that any Nelson fan will appreciate.

Austin American-Statesman: Austin writer Joe Nick Patoski's epic biography includes everything you'd ever need to know about the Red Headed Stranger by Rich Kienzle

Houston Chronicle: Willie Nelson: a life in full Ups, downs, booze, pot, wives, ex-wives and Julio Iglesias figure in Joe Nick Patoski's biography by Bob Ruggiero

Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

"Radio Days" Fort Worth was where the quest began for a hungry young musician who worked as a DJ named Willie Nelson [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 13, 2008]

"Big time in Cowtown" In 1965, Willie Nelson came home to Panther Hall, a country-music oasis deep in the heart of Cowtown, to record a live album his way [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 14, 2008]

Texas-music writer tells Willie Nelson's story with warmth and simplicity [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 20, 2008]

Cowboy philosopher not pondering legacy [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 26, 2008]


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