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“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” is a title that’s bound to pique just about anyone’s interest. And because the book is penned by Willie Nelson, that makes it even that much more interesting.
Nelson is probably best known for his movie roles and for being one of the Highway Men, along with Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. But who would have thought that in addition to his acting and singing careers, he’s also found time to write a book or two? Actually, he’s written more than just a couple. He wrote a fiction piece titled, “A Tale Out of Luck,” but he’s also authored “The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart) with Turk Pipkin; “The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes” and “Willie: An Autobiography” with Bud Shrake. His latest book, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” was written in 2012. Kinky Friedman supplies the foreword and Nelson’s son Micah, provides illustrations for the book.
It’s a quick read at 169 pages and has short tales by Nelson, his wife Annie, Nelson’s children and grandchildren, along with his sister Bobbie and numerous friends, all talking about their lives on the road and their lives with Nelson — and what kind of person he is.
In his book, “The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes,” Nelson infused the pages with tales of his childhood, random thoughts, dirty jokes, poetry and song lyrics. “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” is pretty much the same kind of thing. And while there is new material provided by his friends and family’s tales, there are also some things from “The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes” that have been recycled. Some of the jokes are the same, some of the song lyrics are the same. In fact, some of the stories of his childhood are the same.
However, as one might imagine, he does talk more about marijuana and his views of the drug, in this book. But he also talks about the environment, songwriting and God. He shares his views on various topics and the reader soon realizes that there is much more depth to Nelson than is visible on the surface. He’s much more than just a singer and songwriter. This is no more evident than in his musings about Farm Aid. He talks about why he’s done it for so many years and what he hopes to accomplish through it.
This is not a novel, by any means. Instead, it’s more like a collection of short stories and illustrations, which makes it easy and quick to read. Though Nelson talks about a variety of topics, his language is easy to follow. Plus, if you’ve read “The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes,” you might find yourself skipping certain pages because you’ve read it before.
Nelson will be 80 in April, and despite a few repetitious stories, jokes and comments, the reader would probably never guess his age if they didn’t know. The book isn’t what one would refer to as “well written,” because so much more could have been done with it. But the reader must also remember that this was not meant to be an autobiography. Instead, it’s just a mish-mash of thoughts, songs, poems, etc., that he put together while on the road. It reads more like a diary than a novel.
Nelson fans should definitely read it — and anyone else who is interested in his thoughts on certain topics. It’s different, that’s for sure.