Willie Nelson has definitely lived a full, rich life, and the “Red-Headed Stranger” has more to do with his life. With a new book out and induction at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, too, this week, Nelson is counting his blessings over a life that’s been full of ups and downs.
Nelson’s new book is titled Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs and it’s written by Nelson, with David Ritz and Mickey Raphael. In it, Nelson, the veteran singer-songwriter, gives insight into some of his favorite tunes.
Some excerpts from the book have been provided to Fox News Digital. He also takes time to write about two of his songs, The Party’s Over and Funny How Time Slips Away.
As for the lyrics in The Party’s Over, Nelson sings, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over/They say that all good things must end/Call it a night, the party’s over/And tomorrow starts the same old/thing again.” Old-school Monday Night Football fans have heard this from the melodic lips of the late “Dandy” Don Meredith.
Nelson writes of the song: “Some people say it’s not good to feel sorry for yourself. Maybe so, but when it comes to songwriting, self-pity ain’t a bad attitude to embrace. Folks relate. From time to time, we all get to feeling sorry for ourselves.” The song debuted in 1967, and, according to Nelson, “it went nowhere.”
That song wasn’t going anywhere at all, but everything changed once Meredith started singing it on the air.
“Along with Howard Cosell on ‘Monday Night Football,’ Don let you know when the game was out of reach by singing his out-of-tune version of ‘The Party’s Over,’” Nelson wrote. “I couldn’t care less that he was out of tune, especially because he’d tell those millions of football fans that Willie Nelson was the writer and they better go see ol’ Willie the next time he comes to their town.”
Willie Nelson Remembers When Merle Haggard Commented About Song
One time, Nelson said Merle Haggard told him what he thought about the song: “‘That’s the saddest party song ever written.’”
“Maybe so, Merle,” I said, “but there’s good money in sadness,” Nelson recalled.
Nelson also reflects on the song Funny How Time Slips Away, written by Nelson in the early 1960s.
“It feels like only yesterday that the story fell out of my brain onto the page. Like all these songs, I let my unconscious do the work,” he wrote.
The song tells the story of a “woman who does a man dirty,” as Nelson put it. Here are some of the song’s lyrics: “How’s your new love?/I hope that he’s doing fine/Heard you told him/That you’d love him till the end of time/Well, you know, that’s the same thing/That you told me/Well, it seems like just the other day/Gee, Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away.”
As to why he created the character, whom he also refers to as a “black widow” in the song, Nelson reveals it’s a classic trope.
“The simplest answer is that the sultry seductress has been an alluring character ever since Antony hooked up with Cleopatra. Shakespeare wrote a play about them that takes up five acts and will probably be staged till the end of time,” he explained.
He added, “My little song, a far more modest statement, may not enjoy such a long life. If it disappears, that’ll be a shame. But what can you do? Songs, like time, do slip away.”
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