Willie Nelson’s Letters to America

by Willie Nelson with Turk Pipkin, 2021

Heartwarming letters from Willie Nelson to all sorts of folks, and even a scathing letter to the COVID-19 virus. He wrote this while at home under lock-down in Texas, and you can tell, he doesn’t like having to stay home, not being able to tour. He’s 88 years old (same age as Dad, born in 1933) and he “Can’t wait to be on the road again!”

He’s funny and loves jokes and loves to tell jokes. He refuses to get political at any shows because he doesn’t want anything negative at his shows, although in the book he mentions a leader who didn’t take the virus seriously. He loves his 8 children – from four wives (I think). He found his last wife, the one he was looking for all along, Annie, when he was making a movie and she was his make-up artist.

He loves Texas; he was born and raised in Abbott, Texas, by his beloved grandparents, whom he called Mama and Daddy. He wrote the song “Family Bible” for them, “the first truly good and lasting song” he’d ever written.. His grandfather bought him his first guitar. He owns a ranch in the Hill Country and built a town he called Luck. He owns a home in Maui. He loves golf. Whiskey and cigarettes were going to be the death of him. He gave them up with the help of marijuana – he LOVES pot. He has his own marijuana company (Willie’s Reserve) and CBD products (Willie’s Remedy CBD), or he inspired them, not sure.

He wrote the song, Three Days, after a drunk told him he hadn’t had a drink in three days: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That made him laugh, but the song is a sad song.

When he was ten, he wrote down 12 of his songs and made them into a little book. There are pictures of the title page and the table of contents page at the back of the book. Amazing!

One of the letters is to his hometown of Abbott. His grandparents home no longer exists, so he bought Doc Sims’s old house (the doctor who delivered him) and stays there when he’s visiting home. The town named a road after him but people keep stealing the street sign.

He likes to gamble and says Dominoes is one of the best gambling games.

He was 19 when he married his first wife, Martha Jewel, who was 16. They had a lot of problems because he hadn’t learned the most important rule for a good marriage – listening.

He writes a letter to young songwriters. His advice includes to pay attention to the world around them, listen to sounds and thoughts, and music knows no boundaries, it speaks to all peoples, everywhere – we’re all wired the same (by a God who has the BEST music).

“Shotgun Willie” was the album that made him famous. By that time, he’d been working hard for 30 years.

Some of his names for the pandemic: “pandammit,” “pandangit,” and “pandumbic.”

His idols were Django Reinhardt and Frank Sinatra. He also was a good friend of Jerry Jeff Walker’s.

He doesn’t allow cocaine on tour – it causes men to be crazy and many of them have guns.

I like the rules for his golf course/studio, “Cut-N-Putt”: “No more than twelve in your foursome,” and “Please leave the course in the condition in which you’d like to be found.”

When in Maui, he plays golf at the Maui Country Club.

He started Farm-Aid in 1985. He wants to help the family farmers – corporate CEOs make 300 times the average income, and farmers even less than the average.

I like his song, “Uncloudy Day,” about heaven where a “King in His beauty” is.

He writes a letter to his fellow Native Americans, as he is part Cherokee by his mother. He cries out for justice for them, what we’ve done to them ever since Christopher Columbus landed.

He asks every person to vote. He includes a letter to his good friend, Jimmy Carter. He has so much respect for him. He writes a letter to Mother Earth pleading for more time to get our shit together.

For me, the most important piece of advice in his book is, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” He says negative thoughts are like poison, and “Worry will make you sick.”

He ends the book with “God is Love,” a new song he’s written. Also, “In God’s Eyes,” in which he says to “Never think evil thoughts of anyone” and “Lend a hand if you can to a stranger…”

Beautiful! Thank you, Willie Nelson! You are a true musical genius, a gift from God!