Willie Nelson Writes Book About Late Drummer Paul English: “I Knew Him Before We Ever Met”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Willie Nelson has revealed his new book Me and Paul: Untold Tales of a Fabled Friendship,” out Sept. 20 via Harper Horizon.

Me and Paul documents the long friendship between Nelson and Paul English, who played many roles in Nelson’s life as a drummer, tour accountant, and bodyguard. Nelson also called English his “guardian angel.”

“The mission of this book is to bring him back,” said Nelson in a statement. “Why were Paul and I so devoted to each other? Good question. That’s another reason I wrote this book—to show the mystical connection between me and Paul. It was like I knew him before we ever met. And now that he’s gone, he’s still here. He still knows me. He still lives in my heart and in the hearts of everyone whose lives he touched.”

Written along with journalist David Ritz, who also collaborated with singer and songwriter on his 2015 book, It’s a Long Story: My Life and Me, and again in 2020 with Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band, a joint memoir with Nelson’s sister Bobbie, who worked with her brother since 1972 and died on March 10, 2022, at the age of 91.

Born Nov. 6, 1932, in Vernon, Texas, English played his first show with Nelson in Fort Worth, Texas in 1955, and officially joined Nelson’s band in 1966. The pair would continue to collaborate and remain close friends for 70 years until English’s death in 2020. “In 2020, my closest friend left me, into the infinite abyss,” wrote Nelson in the introduction to Me and Paul.

In 1985, Nelson released his 32nd album Me and Paul, another homage to his drummer and friend, featuring the title track and lyrics chronicling their adventures on the road—Well it’s been rough and rocky travelin’ / But I’m finally standin’ upright on the ground … I guess Nashville was the roughest / But I know I’ve said the same about them all / We received our education / In the cities of the nation, me and Paul.

“Another thing about Paul: I owe him big time,” shared Nelson. “The man saved my life more times than I can remember. It’s been said that a good friend knows all your best stories, but a best friend has lived them with you. Well, that was us.”

Nelson added, “In the Willie Nelson Family, he stood in the center. I was the frontman of the band, but he was the frontman of my life. He was the papa bear, the big brother, the wise uncle, the money man, the bag man, the dealmaker, the sharpest shooter, and the kindest heart.”

Photo: Courtesy of Harper Horizon

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