“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings
from the Road” by Willie Nelson (William Morrow, $22.99)
“Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You” by Dolly Parton (Putnam Adult, $19.95)
Willie Nelson, the Outlaw Guru, and Dolly Parton, the Sage in Stripper Heels, have much to say about how to find peace and happiness and the core of the heart’s desire.
Now each has produced a slim stocking stuffer for the Christmas season, distilling that wisdom into an afternoon’s read, complete with insight, jokes, song lyrics and a few entertaining nuggets from their remarkable lives.
If Willie and Dolly are talking, it’s worth listening.
These two backwoods bodhisattvas have been contributing to the greater intelligence of the human race for more than a half-century each. Unmotivated by trends, they have found themselves at the center of the action multiple times.
After inventing “outlaw country,” Willie Nelson anticipated the American songbook craze by about 20 years when he released “Stardust” in 1978, introducing a new demographic to the songs of the greatest generation.
A bona fide country star, Dolly fused country and disco with “9 to 5,” and wrote the Whitney Houston blockbuster “I Will Always Love You,” which has been a radio hit four times in three different decades.
If they never picked up a musical instrument or stood in front of a microphone, Dolly and Willie would both still be legendary as songwriters. Yet both made themselves into quadruple threats, writing, playing, singing and performing in movies. They didn’t quit there.
Dolly gave an economic bone marrow transplant to her Tennessee community with the amusement complex Dollywood, which became one of the region’s largest employers.
Willie (along with John Mellencamp and Neil Young) created Farm Aid in 1985 to try to keep family farms from going bankrupt.
Their books are different in style and tone. Willie’s book, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road,” is a Rabelaisian idyll, mixing contemporary journal entries (from 2011 and 2012) with reminiscences from friends and family and plenty of profane good humor.
Dolly’s entry, “Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You,” grew out of her University of Tennessee commencement address in 2009 (a ceremony during which she received an honorary degree and became Dr. Dolly). Perhaps more self-consciously inspirational, it is also packed with humor, which never violates a PG rating.
Some thoughts from the Dolly Lama:
• “It seems that each project I take on is bigger and better than the last. (This does not include plastic surgery.)”
• “I hope that I drop dead right onstage one of these days, doing exactly what I want to do.”
• On exercise: “I certainly can’t jog or I’d black both my eyes and beat myself to death.”
• “People always say, ‘But you always look so happy.’ Well, that’s Botox! Nobody’s happy all the time. But I work hard at it.”
Willie spikes his musings with song lyrics, bad jokes and bromides, starting with the novel suggestion, “If it ain’t broke, break it!” Here are a few more:
• “Wherever you are right now, send out some good vibes. Energy follows thought, and when you send it out it keeps going. Every thought you have had is still spinning in the universe, so keep them positive.”
• “Keep doing it wrong ’til you like it that way.”
• “Think it. Be it. You are the sum total of all your thoughts. Remember, you are who you wanted to be.”