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It's a Long Story: My Life Hardcover – Large Print, May 5, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 886 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A smooth-spoken recollection of the country legend's childhood and his eight-decade-long musical career.... Just like this book -- and its subject -- direct and genuine."―Mike Snider, USA Today

"Invaluable... Nelson writes the way he sings and plays guitar--with conversational ease and grace."―James Reed, The Boston Globe

"Every page radiates authenticity.... Heartfelt...."―Douglas Brinkley, The Washington Post

"Endlessly entertaining.... Readers of It's a Long Story will finally get the sense that Nelson is sitting before them spilling everything he can remember.... It's a wonderful thing if you love ol' Willie -- and who doesn't? ... Nelson has spent decades on the road building this story -- do yourself a favor and take a day or two to read it."―Hunter Hauk, Dallas Morning News

"Brims with affectionate reminiscences of Nelson's childhood and semi-wayward youth, his turbulent marriages and career zigzags. And of course his raison d'être, music."―Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

A "breezy new autobiography... His voice as a writer, as in song, is warm, generous and good-timey."―James Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle

"Nelson offers a warm, friendly, and a deeply reflective glimpse behind the making of most of his albums as well as behind-the-scenes looks at some of his best-known hits.... Reading Nelson's narrative is like sitting on the front porch chatting with an old friend."―Publishers Weekly

A "candid, heartfelt memoir.... In a plainspoken, conversational tone reminiscent of his singing voice."―Dave Shiflett, Wall Street Journal

"The closing chapters are reflective and heartfelt--part musical and part personal--and they nicely bookend Nelson's admirable attempt to recount his 'long story.'"―Andrew Dansby, The Houston Chronicle

"One of the original 'outlaw' country singers puts it all on the line with this bawdy and moving tale of his extraordinary life."―Allen Pierleoni, The Sacramento Bee

"As breezy, entertaining and occasionally bizarre as the man himself."―Larry Getlen, New York Post

"An autobiography that ought to be on any Southern music lover's shelf--this is Willie in his own authentic voice, sharing memories of his Texas upbringing."―CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun

It's a Long Story "is closer to a series of Raymond Carver stories: terse, conversational and peppered with profanity, jokes and life lessons.... One of the great stories in American music."―Jim Kiest, San Antonio Express-News

"This is the definitive Willie Nelson story. It's a rare insight into an American folk hero, one told in a voice as powerful and genuine as the red-headed stranger himself."
Mark Flanagan, Run Spot Run

"The often hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking story of a life on the run."―Woody Harrelson, Interview

"This rollicking bio perfectly captures the inimitable voice of his plain-speaking subject."―Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star

"Who doesn't love Trigger-wielding Willie Nelson? ... Pour a drink, take a seat and dig into the life story of one of America's true living legends."―Parade

"One of America's most gifted songwriters and storytellers, Nelson mesmerizes us with his gift of gab in this autobiography, regaling us with stories of his life -- from his childhood and youth in Abbott, TX, to the ups and downs of his marriages, and his deep love for his family, friends, fans, and songwriting."―Henry Carrigan, No Depression

"Country music legend Willie Nelson tells his life story his way, with humor and outright honesty. Most of the time, it feels as if he is sitting right across the table talking directly to us, pouring out his heart and soul."―Christine M. Irvin, BookReporter

"Nelson recounts a colorful life story in and out of music. And what a life it has been."―Bob Ruggiero, Houston Press

"Warm, witty, and burnished with cowboy mystic wisdom."―Tim Stegall, The Austin Chronicle

"Long Story thrives on the basis of two factors: Nelson's short sentences, chalk-full of his deadpan wit and the larger-than-life tales he shares.... Nelson's sage and easy-going spin on these various yarns, and the morals he offers up in his summations, are endearing and entertaining.... Essential reading."―James Courtney, San Antonio Current

"A fascinating memoir of a living American icon. It is as colorful as Willie's life has been. Written in a very beautiful and gripping style, Nelson's book reads like a novel."―The Washington BookReview

"It's a Long Story proves to capture the Red Headed Stranger in a direct light, and fans have plenty to gain within its pages."―Tyler R. Kane, Paste Magazine's "The 15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 (So Far)"

"As a kid, Willie Nelson wrote poetry. From an early age, he understood the power of a simple, direct voice and it's this voice that makes My Life more than just another run-of-the-mill, music industry memoir.... You don't need to be a fan to be beguiled by his gift for spinning a yarn."―Fiona Capp, The Sydney Morning Herald --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Willie Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. He was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Lrg edition (May 5, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316339318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316339315
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (886 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 6, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Willie Nelson at the time of writing this book is 82 and he seems to be writing right from his heart. He covers a lot of his experiences, feelings and thoughts; but what might be of most interest to his many fans are his descriptions of how he wrote many of his songs. He wants to tell his story and he most certainly does. A song is a short story and he has used them to tell much of his life but here are the fine points.

I like his music, but have never seen him perform (but now I have tickets for this summer) and didn't know much about him, other than some things I have read in newspapers and his legal troubles. Those are covered in here and how he keeps on going. He relates much of his life to his music and he covers his childhood to the present in these pages.
He does begin with his IRS troubles. He is blunt in his language and his attitude. He writes as he speaks and yes there is profanity in here. That is just how some talk and his writing is seemingly as honest as his manner.
He does tell about downing huge quantities of whiskey and wine, experimenting with LSD and of course his ongoing love affair with pot.

If anything else his song writing is amazing. He has written some of country music's greatest classics: Crazy, Pretty Paper, Funny How time Slips Away among others. He tells how they came into being and how they and others were recorded.
Despite all this, what is overriding is his love for family, friends, even his different wives, women, and his faith. This might be old hat for his tried and true fans, but these are his personal stories and his look on life and the background of his music, his songs and how his recordings came to be.

This is a book for Willie Nelson fans and when you read it you will have more of an appreciation for this man and his music. It might even make new fans for the man and his songs.
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Format: Hardcover
What I love most about Willie's autobiography is the attention he paid to telling the story of his younger years. Long before Honeysuckle Rose and Farm Aid, long before he became a target of the IRS and a spokesman for marijuana, before Austin and before Nashville even. Willie Nelson's is truly a long story, and it's a pleasure to hear it told from the beginning, in Willie's voice.

It's a Long Story begins at the beginning - in Abbott, Texas - where Willie and his sister, Bobby, were raised by their grandparents, and takes the reader through Willie's start as a disc jockey and a musician, his ups and downs (mostly downs) in the Texas clubs, and his attempts to make it in California and Oregon, where he met Mae Axton, who worked for Elvis's manager at the time and advised Willie to go to Nashville, or at least back to Texas.

Some of the best parts are the insights Willie provides into the origins of his early songs, written at some of his lowest points - numbers like "Night Life", "Crazy", and "Hello Walls", which he wrote at a $50/week songwriting job he took at Pamper Music in Goodlettesville, TN.

We all know Shotgun Willie, the high-flying outlaw country star who has played music with everyone from Ray Charles to Kid Rock. It's a Long Story reveals the man prior to the legend, the clean-shaven Texas picker who pounded the pavement, sold vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias on the side, and busted his ass for three decades before his star began to shine.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
'Night Life, 'Crazy' and 'Hello Walls, three of Willie Nelson's most wonderful and long lasting songs were almost sold for five dollars a piece. Willie was down on his luck, looking for work, and needed money. Thankfully, the man he wanted to sell them to, would not buy them,but offered him an opportunity to move on. This is but one little bit of info we learn about this wonderful, musical man.

From a young age Willie had the music in him. Brought up by his grandparents in the little Texas town they lived in, he and his sister had a wonderful childhood. Not much money but love, hard work, and perseverance. Willie was always active, an athlete, loved the music he learned from Church, but when he was offered money to play honky tonk in a bar, he took it. Eight dollars a night, more than he made in a week picking cotton. He moved around a lot, every small and large town in Texas, Oregon, California, and then he traveled to Nashville where his life turned around.

Willie makes it clear that family and friends come first. However, Willie was a ladie's man, and was out every evening playing his music. With three marriages behind him and several children, Willie admits he cheated, many times. He liked to drink, smoke pot, and play his music, but he loves his family, dearly. We hear all the stories, the people he met who helped him on his way from birth to this present day. He is now 82, still going strong, loves his ranch in Abbott, Texas, and that is where his journey begins and ends.

He talks about his problems with the IRS and the multi millions he ended up owing. He glosses over his financial manager who he said extended the IRS claims. Willie refused to declare bankruptcy, and worked for years to pay off his debt.
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