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Willie Nelson: The Outlaw Paperback – 8 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books; New Ed edition (8 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753511843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753511848
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 688,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Graeme Thomson is the author of several books. UNDER THE IVY: THE LIFE & MUSIC OF KATE BUSH (Omnibus, 2010) was described by The Irish Times as "the best music biography in perhaps the past decade" and by MOJO as "superb". Record Collector called I SHOT A MAN IN RENO (Bloomsbury, 2008) "one of the most informative and fulfilling music books you're ever likely to read."

BEHIND THE LOCKED DOOR, his definitive biography of George Harrison, will be published in the autumn of 2013: http://amzn.to/16nloR7

Graeme Thomson has written for the Observer, New Statesman, Oxford American, the Telegraph, Time Out, MOJO and Rolling Stone, and contributes regularly to the Guardian, Uncut, the Herald and The Arts Desk. He lives with his family in Edinburgh.

"The best music biography in perhaps the past decade... an absorbing, painstakingly researched and downright fascinating book" - Irish Times

"Superb .... A compelling examination of an artist in a constant state of becoming - Mojo

"Respectful, fascinating and full of insight" - Q

"A masterful biography. Thomson's descriptive language is gorgeous" - The Word

"Sheds a light on the women behind the inspiration of many a modern-day chanteuse - NME

"That rarest of rock & roll studies: expertly researched, restrained yet stylish, and in perfect tune with its subject's work" - Austin Chronicle

"Those with even a remote interest in rock music of the past 30 years will find his book utterly mesmerizing" - Library Journal

"A vital read ... Thomson here returns one of rock's most elusive figures to flesh and blood ... Definitive." - Uncut
"Brilliantly written . . . in the absence of Elvis Costello putting pen to paper himself, this is far and away the next best thing." - Record Collector

"Better musical surveys are hard to find, and the results are positively life-affirming." - Paste

"Its contents more than live up to the billing.... a rich and masterful read." - The Word

"Shows an electric ability to craft delectable imagery with informative reporting..... Dude knows the best musical death trips!" - KEXP, Best Books of 2008

"An essential volume for anyone interested in pop as an all-pervasive social force that soundtracks our lives right up to our last breath.... One of the most informative and fulfilling music books you're ever likely to read" - Record Collector

"A wildly cheering history of the subject of death in popular song." - Observer, Best Music Books of 2008

"An excellent biography. Thomson is too shrewd a biographer to take [Nelson] at his own estimation." - Paul Du Noyer, The Word

"Thomson tells the Nelson story with incision and insight. Sharp writing, astute observation and a wry attitude .... make for a lively read and a vivid portrait of an often baffling talent. Recommended." - Neil Spencer, Observer Music Monthly

Product Description


"A timely reminder of the stature and achievements of the 72-year-old Texan" (Daily Telegraph)

"A tale of drink, drugs, women and excess that would make [Keith] Richards reach for the Panadol. It's a great tale, well worth the read" (Sunday Sport)

"A lively read and vivid portrait" (Observer)

Book Description


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By arachne on 4 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was bought for a friend who is a long time Willie Nelson fan and he is overjoyed with it, said I couldn't have bought anything better (apart from managing to get a cd he hasn't already in his vast collection of course). He hasn't quite finished it yet so perhaps a full review isn't possible but as far as he is concerned it is the best biography on Willie Nelson he has read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By paul michael on 7 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good and at times, insightful read into Willie's life thus far. Sometimes a little flat but engaging nonetheless. Recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
At Last: The Real Willie 18 July 2006
By James Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had to write this review after reading the previous reviewer's comments, which make little sense. THE OUTLAW is a fantastic read, and, more importantly, the first book that really grapples with the strange, magic reality of Willie Nelson. It is virtually un-put-downable, full of character and verve, honesty and insight.

Even as I tore through it I suspected there might be a split between those who read it: for so-called 'loyal' Willie fans who treat him like some kind of God, it may not appeal. Those who are looking for an uncomplicated, unthinking homage to Willie will not find it here - there are plenty of those kinds of books on the shelves, but this is the first Willie book to really grapple with the complexities of the man; it is a warts 'n' all study, although affectionate, knowledgable and fair, and presents him and his amazing world in a thorough and truly new way.

It is clearly and cleverly written, with little up-close vignettes of Willie in between each chapter, and with cameos from all the major players in Willie's life. I bet Willie read it with a wry chuckle and thought, 'Yep, they finally got me!'

A wonderful book, highly recommended to all Willie fans who don't wear blinkers, and all other music fans.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Retirement?.."All I do is play golf and play music--which one do you want me to give up?"..Willie 27 July 2009
By J. Guild - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been a fan of Willie's ever since he first appeared on the music scene.To attempt to condense Willie's life and music in a book of 280 pages is a task that is ,to say the least,monumental.But that is exactly what Graeme Thomson has tried to do, and he has done an excellent job of it.
As much as any longtime fan thinks he knows about Willie;reading this book is going to be an eyeopener and pleasure;but is also going to give one a lot more insight into his life,friends,music,and everything else about him;and shows what makes him the legend that he is.As Willie continues on past his mid-seventies;his fans are continually amazed at his endurance and are treated to more good music and sides of Willie that they have never imagined.
While many biographies on performers in the world of music tend to get overloaded with the music itself,dates,music production companies,copyrite problems,disography,the writers,and endless flow of band members,etc.;Thompson is still able to incooperate all that;but still manages to center his book on Willie himself.It is hard to imagine any other book being able to do a better job of showing what Willie is all about ,and more importantly why.
There is all too much to comment on this book ;but still I would like to mention a couple of things.
The relationships with his wives,children and extended family show what a difficult life of being "on the road" entails.It is so difficult that many are ruined by it,or simply can't take it and quit;but Willie seems to have thrived on it for 50 years,and still continues.
Any fan of Willie, knows the difficulties he had with the taxes and the IRS during the 80's,but the details are all in the book and one can see how all this happened and how Willie managed to survive these dark days;and even to quote an old adage "Turned a Lemon into Lemonade."
Willie Nelson is without any doubt,one of the great musicians,songwriters,singers ,actors,and all around entertainers of the 20th Century.He has given his all for his huge following of fans,seemed to want little out of life other than to be able to make and play his music for anyone who wanted to listen,play a little golf,enjoy his friends family and fans,and smoke a little pot.Many other entertainers have had their moments of stardom;but few have had the enduring span of so many years...and hopefully,there will be more to come.
If you have enjoyed Willie and his music over the years;you owe it to yourself to read this book.You'll enjoy it, and without doubt,learn things about this amazing entertainer that you never knew.How he treated the people around,from his family,friends,others in the music business,people who worked for him,and of course,his fans ;will amaze you. Yes,he made a lot of money along the way;but it wasn't the money that he made, that was important to him ;it was what he could do with it ,particularly for others.His loyalty and generosity and desire to help others was boundless. As the twilight of his career and life approaches;Willie sums it up this way;

"Once you've reached that point where it seems like you've been through the fires and you're still here,then that in itself is a miracle-that you survived all these things.There is enough reason there for jubilation.I think." ..Willie
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Spot on 18 July 2006
By Chavez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Awesome book! Fills in a whole load of gaps in Will's life that I often wondered about. I've been a fan for 25 years and hoped this kind of 3-D book would come along - it's not only very astute on his life and character but also absolutely BRILLIANT on his music.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Must read for Willie fans 3 Nov. 2006
By D. Brooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Great insight to one of America's greatest song writers and musicians. I've followed Willie for over 30 years and I'm not a country music fan. Willie reaches everyone who loves a good song.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
conveys a good sense of Willie 11 Jun. 2007
By quiettime - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the book, and felt that it presented a pretty thorough, well-rounded view of an interesting person. I do think that Mr. Thomson knows the music scene very well, although he unnecessarily inserts some of his personal condescending viewpoints of some currently popular country artists. I knocked the rating down a star because it needed better editing - there are several typos that should have been caught.
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