Willie Nelson shares songwriting secrets ahead of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction

Willie Nelson, dressed in black, faces the camera with Trigger in his lap

Willie Nelson
Photo: Pamela Springsteen

The end of 2023 is in sight, but before this year slips away, there is, incredibly, a fresh batch of Willie Nelson news to catch you up on. (Again, as we’ve noted a few times over the course of the year, Willie has a whole lot going on.)

A new book

First and foremost, the 90-year-old icon is releasing Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs, arguably his most insightful, revelatory book to date – the singer-songwriter has authored or co-authored what seems like umpteen tomes over the years. In this one, he zeroes in on 160 of his songs to explore the meanings and motivations behind a sliver of his life’s work.

Co-written with David Ritz and Mickey Raphael, the 400-page Thought is extraordinary for how frankly Nelson pulls apart everything from his classics (“On the Road Again”: “Without knowing or trying, in a few little lines I’d written the story of my life.”) to his deeper cuts (“Bring It On”: “Sometimes I sound braver in my songs than I feel in real life.”) with the same kind of wit and insight he deploys in his music.

The anecdotes are augmented with a slew of rare photos, and for Nelson aficionados, the handsome book is nothing short of a treasure trove.

The Hall of Fame

Nelson is also being inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Friday, during a ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which will be broadcast live on Disney+ starting at 7 p.m. Central. (ABC will air a special featuring moments from the induction ceremony on Jan. 1.) As part of the event, Nelson will perform.


You can also catch Nelson on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert not once, but twice this week — he’s scheduled to perform on Nov. 1, and sit down for a conversation with Colbert on Nov. 2.


In another nod to Nelson’s 90th birthday this year, several of his albums have been reissued on vinyl. The Great Divide made its debut on wax in June, followed by Teatro in August, and Milk Cow Blues in September. Earlier this month, Spirit was reissued as well. Each album is available on 180-gram vinyl, and colored variants of all four LPs are available via Nelson’s website.

Birthday concert release

And last, but by no means least, Nelson has announced that this year’s star-studded 90th birthday concert at the Hollywood Bowl will be released on CD, Blu-ray, and vinyl next month, featuring performances from a slew of fellow Texans, including Norah Jones, Edie Brickell, Lyle Lovett, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Miranda Lambert, and Charley Crockett.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.