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 Willie Nelson, The Outlaw, Book Revew 
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Post Willie Nelson, The Outlaw, Book Revew
Willie Nelson, The Outlaw, Book Revew
by: Robin Smith

Alan Gordon, a lifelong Willie Nelson fan reviews the latest biography of this complicated man, who has lost fortunes over the years, not all of it spent on beer, women and song, some of it was wasted.

It ain't always been a good life, but it's Willie Nelson's life. Surrounded by the same fiercely loyal friends for decades. Blessed with unquestioning generosity. Smoking the best weed in the land while the cops turn a blind eye (and sometimes provide it). Living in a world of his own creation. But Graeme Thomson's "Willie Nelson: The Outlaw" also explores painful events in Nelson's past -- and the damage his choices inflict on others.

Abandoned by his parents. Selling the rights to soon-to-be-classic songs for pocket change to make ends meet. Nearly losing everything in an IRS raid over millions in unpaid taxes. A string of failed marriages and kids who seldom saw their father.

"All his family had grown up with the knowledge that they had to play second fiddle to his pursuit of a life that worked for him," Thomson writes. "He loved them all and he had always loved knowing that he had a home and family waiting, just as long as he didn't have to actually be there too often."

Thomson's book is well-researched, well-organized and well-written. It shows how Nelson survived and thrived in a music business that tried to reject him. How he assembled the band of gypsies that travel with him night after night playing an energetic, if predictable, set. How he balances friendships with presidents and real-life outlaws.

Thomson knows Nelson's music inside out, and his critique of the records and career choices is illuminating. Particularly insightful are comparisons to Bob Dylan.

"Their instincts and art were not as far apart as might be supposed: each refused to be backed into a corner, and each boasted a bottomless knowledge and appreciation of the American songbook ," Thomson says. "Both had voices which could divide a room, with those poor, misguided souls who thought neither of them could sing -- in the way that, say, Mariah Carey could sing -- being condemned to the dunces' corner."

Willie Nelson, like Dylan, is still on the road and showing no signs of quitting. He's got a great one-liner about retirement: "All I do is play golf and play music -- which one do you want me to give up ?." Now that's a good question

About The Author
If you love music you just must visit Rokpool, it is an online rock music archive where you can enjoy rare music,see unique photos,read exclusive articles, watch rare videos and footage for free, and find memorabilia from the last sixty years of music history. There are literally thousands of pages to explore, hundreds of artists to enjoy, and many thousands of free videos.
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Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:38 am
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