Marijuana Policy Project
Curved Papers

A High Times Story: How Willie Nelson's 'Me and Paul' Ended Up on 'Hempilation 2'

Paul English and Willie Nelson in the ’70s

The phone rang. It was Willie Nelson.

It was 1996 and I was working at High Times. We'd sent Willie a Christmas card and he decided to return the favor with a call. I'd smartly placed my business card in the envelope.

I'd just completed the first Hempilation benefit album for NORML with Capricorn Records. It was great record and sold a lot of copies, but one person was missing on it: Willie Nelson.

After some pleasantries, I told him about the album and asked if he had heard about it. Willie said no. I explained that we were planning on a sequel and wondered if he'd like to be on it.

We suddenly started talking songs. He suggested a version of "The Harder They Come," which he had recently recorded for his reggae album Countryman.

I had another idea and asked if he would be intersted in covering Brewer & Shipley's "One Toke Over the Line." He politely demurred and than offered "Me & Paul," a catchy number about his road adventures with drummer Paul English. It goes:

It's been rough and rocky travelin'
But I'm finally standin' upright on the ground
After takin' several readings
I'm surprised to find my mind's still fairly sound

I guess Nashville was the roughest
But I know I've said the same about them all
We received our education
In the cities of the nation, me and Paul

Almost busted in Laredo
But for reasons that I'd rather not disclose
But if you're stayin' in a motel there and leave
Just don't leave nothin' in your clothes

And at the airport in Milwaukee
They refused to let us board the plane at all
They said we looked suspicious
But I believe they like to pick on me and Paul

On a package show in Buffalo
Wth us and Kitty Wells and Charlie Pride
The show was long and we're just sittin' there
And we'd come to play and not just for the ride

Well we drank a lot of whiskey
So I don't know if we went on that night at all
But I don't think they even missed us
I guess Buffalo ain't geared for me and Paul

I guess Nashville was the roughest
But I know I've said the same about them all
We received our education
In the cities of the nation, me and Paul

I said yes and we had a deal. Willie said they'd record it live in concert and send the track to Capricorn. That's exactly what happened. It appears on Hempilation 2: Free the Weed (1998).

Versions of "Me and Paul" are on Nelson's Yesterday's Wine (1971) and Me & Paul (1985) albums.

The sad news is that Paul English has passed away. Born in 1933, he joined Nelson's band in 1965 and played with him until he suffered a stroke in 2010. He's survived by his wife and three children.

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.