Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life


A few days ago I finished a review of Joe Nick Patoski's excellent biography of Willie Nelson, the Texas-born songwriter and singer who might be considered one of the seminal 20th century artists in roots music -- music that springs entirely from American culture.

It's an excellent book, so comprehensive that I think it has the wrong title. I would have called it Encyclopedia Willienelsonia.

Look for the review in the upcoming issue of The Internet Review of Books, scheduled to be published next week.

There seems to be a constant discussion among writers about the ... source of the art, or skill. Nelson is an example of The Natural. Raised in poverty, completing high school while playing in hill country Texas honky-tonks, he burst onto the Nashville scene with iconic songs like Crazy, Nightlife, and Funny How Time Slips Away.

An Epic Life is an extraordinarily comprehensive, fact-laden book, but it is also a must-read for cultural history buffs.

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