Willie Nelson Speaks Out About Being ‘Ready to Move on’ During Past Battle With ‘Depression’

by Shelby Scott

At 89 years old, Willie Nelson remains a stalwart presence in country music. Aside from music though, one of his latest undertakings is his soon-to-debut memoir, Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship. The publication dives into the singer’s decades-long friendship with bandmate and confidante Paul English. The brand new publication, out September 20th, is sure to entertain with a number of fond memories and milestones. However, Willie Nelson also takes a moment to speak about his battle with depression and his willingness to “move on” at one of the lowest points in his life. And we get a sneak peek at the memoir in a new excerpt.

Recalling hard times upon arriving in Nashville, Nelson shared that life in Music City was hardly grand. Living in a trailer, Willie Nelson’s home on wheels was located between a cemetery and a used car lot.

“I made it to Nashville,” he said, “but from where I was sitting, the city wasn’t pretty.”

Nelson’s physical surroundings played a heavy role in his depression. And rejection didn’t help either.

“This trailer park was several levels below the way my family had been living,” the country singer revealed. “Our rundown apartment in the boondocks of Houston looked better than the view of the tombstones right outside our dilapidated home on wheels. My get-up-and-go attitude was challenged.”

Reflecting On Suicide

One thing readers will love about Willie Nelson’s memoir is that his story and tone are entirely genuine. And that truthfulness communicates the singer’s hardships with that much more feeling.

After time, the weight of Willie Nelson’s early failure in Music City weighed too heavily on him and, thinking about a Lightnin’ Hopkins tune where the subject lay on a railroad track waiting for the end, Nelson resolved to do the same.

“It had started snowing,” the singer remembered. “There wasn’t any railroad in sight, but there was Broadway—the city’s main thoroughfare. Why not go out there, lie down in the middle of the street, and let some souped-up Plymouth Barracuda ease my troubled mind?”

And that’s exactly what happened. Almost. Fortunately for the now-famed artist, “there was hardly any traffic. If one or two drivers saw me, they swerved out of the way.” Eventually, “I got up, went back to Tootsie’s, and had another drink.”

The morning following that pivotal night, Willie Nelson ran into Paul English, with whom he remained friends until the latter’s death in 2020. Recalling lunch that day with English, things suddenly weren’t so heavy.

Willie Nelson’s First Nashville Gig As A Songwriter

Soon after Paul English’s visit, Willie Nelson’s luck changed. And despite the positive nature of their interaction and English’s motivational words, Nelson said he actually had nothing to do with him scoring his first gig.

“Hank [Cochran] was one of the first guys I met when I arrived in Nashville,” Willie Nelson recalled. “More than the others, Hank had shown an interest in my writing. On this particular day his interest took a different turn. He made me an offer.”

From there, Willie Nelson went on to work as a songwriter thanks to Hank Cochran at a publisher called Pamper. Outsiders can read more about Nelson’s eventual success, not to mention his relationship with Paul English when his memoir debuts this week.