Willie Nelson wrote the song “Me & Paul” in the early 1970s with his longtime drummer Paul English, whom he considered his closest friend. “We got our education, in cities across the country, me and Paul,” he sang of the man he met in the 1950s and had been touring with since the 1960s.
English died in February 2020 at the age of 87. But in the introduction to Nelson’s new book “Me and Paul: Untold Tales of a Fabled Friendship,” due September 20 from Harper Horizon, Willie writes, “Now that he’s gone, he’s still here. He knows me He still lives in my heart and in the hearts of all those whose lives he touched.
Written with acclaimed music biographer David Ritz, who worked with Willie on his 2015 autobiography “It’s a Long Story: My Life” and Willie and Bobbie Nelson’s 2019 double memoir “Me and Sister Bobbie”, the 256 pages is something Willie says he owed his old friend.
After:Willie Nelson’s 2015 autobiography, “It’s a Long Story: My Life”
“There’s something about my friendship with Paul that reminds me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn,” Nelson said in a press release announcing the book. “Tom was more civilized and Huck was wilder. Although I was very wild at 22, I have to say that Paul was wilder. Like Tom and Huck, however, we became a team. Nothing could or would never separate us.”
A preface by Ritz adds that the new book “is not a pure autobiography. It is something different, a collection of tales – some short, some great.”
Billy English, Paul’s brother, joined Willie’s longtime family band as percussionist in 1983 and took over the main drum seat after Paul’s death. The death of Willie’s older sister, Bobbie, his longtime pianist, earlier this year at the age of 91 has further changed the formation of the band.
So far, no new pianists have been added; Willie’s sons, Lukas and Micah, play more regularly with their father. (Micah will be on board for the July 4 picnic at Q2 Stadium, alongside Billy English, bassist Kevin Smith and longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael.
After:Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic is back in the saddle, at Q2 Stadium
Nelson, who turned 89 in April, recently released ‘A Beautiful Time’, the 17th studio album he has released in his 80s.