By Chris Willman
Updated April 18, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

Willie Nelson fans will have their blue eyes cryin’ in the rain — with joy — over the arrival of such a richly reported bio. Willie might be the least conflicted hero in biographical history, once he trades being a ”bad drunk” for placid pot and metaphysics. (When he cries after a snub from girlfriend Amy Irving, it’s practically his only vulnerable moment in 500 pages.) But despite Joe Nick Patoski’s reluctance to psychoanalyze his beatific subject in Willie Nelson, there are scores of funny firsthand stories in his account of how a ramshackle hillbilly career sparked an unlikely convergence of redneck, hippie, and Hollywood culture. B+

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