The Tao Of Willie: A Guide To The Happiness In Your Heart

Willie Nelson has evolved over the years from country music outlaw swimming against a whiskey river to a Zen-like figure of wisdom and contentment. In this autobiographical collection of life advice,

Hello. I'm Willie Nelson

A Way can be a guide, but not a fixed path.
—The Tao Te Ching

Hi. I'm Willie Nelson, and it's a pleasure to meet you. I've met many of you before, of course, out on the road as I've traveled across America and around the world playing my music.

I've seen you at concerts and in honky-tonks. I've seen you in little country churches, at gigantic music festivals, and at countless fund-raisers for causes that we believe in. We may have traded smiles in a cafe. I might have laughed at a joke you told me, or I may have told you one of mine.

Here's one now:

What did the Minnesotan say to the Pillsbury Doughboy?
"Nice tan."


If we both get a laugh out of a quick one like that, then we're ahead of the game. You may even find some deeper meaning in that joke—some analogy to the greater lessons or mysteries of life. (If you do, let me know immediately. As far as I know, it's just a joke... but I could be wrong.)


Whether we've been eye to eye, or you've just heard me singing my songs, I'd like to think that we're old friends, new friends, or just friends in the making.

The Texas golf master Harvey Penick said, "If you play golf, you are my friend." So what I say is, "If you love music, you are my friend."

It's good to have a lot of friends.

This book is my way of sharing a little of what I've learned in seventy-two years of making music and friends on this beautiful planet. I don't know if the things I write here will change your life, but they sure changed mine.

The ways my life has changed seem pretty amazing to me, for somewhere along the way, the freckle-faced, dirt-eating kid from Abbott, Texas, ended up being a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather with a family, friends, and work I wouldn't trade for anything on earth. By hook or by crook, I seem to have stumbled onto something all of us search for in this great mystery of life.

Some would call it happiness, but I like to think that what I found is me. That sounds simple enough, but the truth is, it took quite a while to do it. Among other things, it took me learning that I had to quit trying to be someone else.


Trying to be someone else is the hardest road there is.

I thought I'd tell you a little about how I got here, and maybe by getting to know me and a little about the path I've taken, you'll find a path of your own. Along the way, you'll get to know both of us a little better.

That's what we're talking about -- me and you.

So welcome to The Tao of Willie, my little guide to the happiness in your own heart. From the get-go, we need to get one thing straight. If you're looking for a scholarly work about the ancient Eastern philosophy found in the Tao Te Ching, this may not be what you had in mind.

On the other hand, if you don't know beans about the ancient Chinese philosophy called the Tao, there's no reason to fret.

You don't have to know the Tao for the Tao to know you.

Whatever you think of the Tao, if my thoughts strike that bell of truth in your heart, it will also be ringing in mine.

That's the way it is between friends.

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