Willie Nelson Reveals Support From Friend Paul English Following Early-Career Suicide Attempt

·3 min read
Photo credit: Jim Bennett - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jim Bennett - Getty Images


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  • Country star Willie Nelson opened up about his friendship with Paul English in a new memoir titled Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship.

  • Nelson revealed he attempted suicide in Nashville and his friend English helped me carry on.

  • The new memoir is out on September 20th.

You may know all the words to Always on My Mind (one of the best country songs of all time) by heart today, but country superstar Willie Nelson wasn’t always the legend we know and love today. The 89-year-old detailed some of the early days of his music career with close friend Paul English in a new memoir titled Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship. The book, out September 20th, shares raw moments regarding Nelson’s mental health, and how his close friend English was always by his side.

In the memoir, the Funny How Time Slips Away singer details how he met former drummer and late friend English. The two first connected at a small Texas radio station in 1955 and lasted until English’s death in early 2020. The memoir includes stories of their six-decade friendship where Nelson reveals English supported him during the darkest times, according to an excerpt published by People.

Nelson reveals that in the early 1960s living in a trailer park in Nashville, he felt hopeless about his music career and ultimately attempted to end his life. Though he felt welcome within the Nashville music community, he felt stuck waiting for his moment to shine. “My problem was seeing how so many of its members were making a living making music while I wasn’t. Not a dime,” he wrote.

To combat this sadness, he admitted to drinking often and getting into fights until eventually, his depression overtook him. “My early days in Nashville were a definite low point. I’m not one to easily fall prey to depression, but depression had me in its grips,” he admitted in the memoir. “Throwing back bourbon on a freezing cold night at Tootsie’s, I thought about an old song I’d heard Lightin’ Hopkins cut back at Gold Studios in Houston. He sang about feeling so bad until he lay his head on some lonesome railroad line and let it ease his troubled mind. So why not?”

The Hello Walls singer admitted in the memoir he considered doing the same thing the song suggested and went to lie down on a busy street in the center of Nashville. But no cars came by, and he eventually returned to the bar for another drink.

The next day, English showed up at Nelson’s trailer to pay his friend a visit while en route from Louisville to Memphis. He took Nelson for lunch and a walk to lift his spirits and encouraged Nelson to go out and celebrate the success of simply being in Nashville. “It was good being with someone who seemed to believe in me more than I believed in myself,” he wrote. “He really believed in a rosy future at a time when I couldn’t afford to buy my wife a dozen roses.”

Needless to say, we’re grateful for the friendship the two held over the years and adore the music that came from their success.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, know the warning signs of suicide and consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or their direct line at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to message a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free.

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