Willie Nelson: Road Rules And Deep Thoughts

Play associated audio

At nearly 80, Willie Nelson remains impressively prolific: lots of songs, lots of kids and, fittingly, lots of autobiographies. The country singer's latest memoir is called Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, after a song on his Heroes album, released earlier this year. Nelson says those seeking earth-shattering revelations about his life should look elsewhere; that wasn't his intention in writing the book.

"I was riding down the highway looking out the window, which is what I do about 22 hours every day, and just sort of writing down my thoughts," he says. "It's more of a diary, I guess, than anything else."

Here, Nelson speaks with NPR's Rachel Martin about his family life, being forced to choose between marijuana and tobacco, and where a touring musician looks for spirituality.


Interview Highlights

On getting into music as a kid in Abbott, Texas

"There was a guy, a blacksmith, in Abbott ... and he had a family band. He just let me play because he knew I wanted to work and needed the work. So I played the guitar in a big polka band with a lot of horns and everything. Fortunately, no one ever heard me, because I wasn't that great. But I was 9 or 10 years old and making 8 to 10 dollars a night. It was easier than picking cotton."

On quitting cigarettes

"I had gotten up to two, maybe three, packs a day. My lungs were bothering me and I'd had pneumonia two or three times. I was also smoking pot, and I decided, well, one of them's gotta go. So I took a pack of Chesterfields and took all the Chesterfields out, rolled up 20 big fat ones and put [them] in there, and I haven't smoked a cigarette since then."

On finding religion on the road

"I've been working every Sunday morning for many years, so I don't even get a chance to go to church and Sunday school like other people do. So my church became the bus and my body the temple, as the Bible tells us. We're all in our church everyday."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

How Do You Spot A Nonconformist? You Can Start With Their Internet Browser

According to Adam Grant, a person's preferred browser is one way to tell whether they accept or reject the defaults in their life. His new book is called Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.
NPR

Calif. Restaurant Gives Diners Ocean View — Up Close

The Marine Room is a restaurant right on the beach. When the tide is high, waves will literally hit the windows.
NPR

Fact Check: GOP Candidates On Taxes And Downgrades

The US doesn't have the highest taxes in the world...but it's close if you're talking about corporate taxes.
NPR

Super Bowl 50 Tightens Cybersecurity

This year's Super Bowl will be held in the most technologically advanced stadium in the world. FBI special agent John Lightfoot talks to NPR's Rachel Martin about the threat of cyber attacks.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.