John Spong's Profile Photo

John Spong is a Texas Monthly senior editor who writes primarily about popular culture, and he hosts the magazine’s popular music-history podcast One By Willie. He has been nominated for three National Magazine Awards, most recently in 2021 as co-editor and lead writer on two large Willie Nelson projects: Willie, Now More than Ever, a special issue that was a finalist for best single-topic issue; and “All 144 Willie Albums, Ranked,” which was nominated for best digital storytelling. He has also twice won the Texas Institute of Letters’ O. Henry Award for Magazine Journalism—for “Holding Garmsir” (January 2009), about a month he spent with a U.S. Marine platoon fighting in Afghanistan, and for “The Good Book and the Bad Book” (September 2006), about a censorship battle at an elite private school in Austin. He is the author of A Book on the Making of Lonesome Dove, and his stories have been collected in The Best Food Writing and The Best American Sports Writing, among others. He lives in Austin with his wife, Julie Blakeslee, and their two boys, Willie Mo and Leon.

179 Articles

One by Willie |
April 29, 2021

Sheryl Crow on ‘Crazy,’ Patsy Cline, and the Dream of Writing a Standard

With Willie Nelson turning 88 this week, One by Willie celebrates with one of his biggest fans and most frequent duet partners, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, who will talk about what may be the single best-known song he ever wrote, “Crazy.” Like the rest of the world, Sheryl initially fell in

Music |
November 1, 2020

Jerry Jeff Walker, Remembered by Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Dan Rather, and Many, Many Others

The New York–born singer-songwriter got to Texas as soon as he could—and spent the next five decades changing the lives of seemingly everyone he met.

Music |
October 8, 2020

Willie Nelson, Landlord

Before he moved his home and his headquarters out to the Hill Country, Willie conducted an experiment in communal living right in the heart of Austin. It was as crazy as you might expect—and helped turn a sleepy college town into the Live Music Capital of the World.

Music |
April 29, 2020

All 146 Willie Nelson Albums, Ranked

The recording career of country music’s greatest artist, surveyed, sized up, and sorted on the occasion of his 87th birthday.

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