Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson Talk About Recovery for Everyone


Paul Williams first career has been as a Grammy and Oscar winning songwriter, singer and actor who found major success in the 70s and 80s while living an increasingly destructive and isolated life as a result of his alcoholism and addiction. He had written hit songs for artists like David Bowie, The Carpenters, Barbra Streisand and Three Dog Night. He was in movies including “Smokey and the Bandit” and had regular appearances on talks shows and TV game shows, but he was rarely happy.

How do you have the kind of life I’m having? I’m 74 today and the things that are going on in my life are absolutely all a gift of my recovery.

Today, Paul is every bit as creative, but without the drugs and alcohol, and he has become a strong advocate for recovery.  He is also happy to be alive, and sees each day as a gift.  Wanting to bring that gift to others, Williams first sought to help those in recovery, but now in a new book, he champions the idea that anyone can benefit from the principles of recovery- even those who aren’t suffering from substance related problems. He and his co-author –film and television screenwriter and now author Tracey Jackson– have applied the principles of recovery to the challenges that people face every day in their lives, including non traditional addictions like anger, food issues, time spent online, irresponsible spending and others.  Williams and Jackson recently sat down with SiriusXM host Ron Bennington on the Ron and Fez Show on Raw Dog Comedy Hits 99 to talk about the book, designed to be the first recovery book for non-addicts.

Williams told Bennington how after years in recovery, a conversation with his best friend Tracey Jackson who has known Paul throughout all the periods of his addiction and recovery, and how the idea for the book came about.

 I said something about how my choo-choo runs on twin rails of gratitude and trust. Tracey and I have been friends for 200 years…but she said — you know she had seen me loaded, she’d seen me sober and she said, “there’s a book there. Let’s take what’s happened to you and find a new voice to share it in.”

Williams shared how Jackson had first met him while he was still using and admits that the Paul Williams of the 80s — a decade he cannot even remember because of substance abuse — was conceited and obnoxious.

Tracey is one of the few people in the world that saw me at my…maybe not my worst, but I certainly acted my worst around her. We met in Robert Mitchum’s bedroom in 1982. She was 12…No, we were like 20 something. And she walked in and said something just lovingly sweet about my music. And my response was like – ‘Good, if it helps you get laid’. Or just some arrogant, flat, nasty-ass comment and she spun on her heels. She walked in the room a Paul Williams fan and left the room a Neil Diamond fan. It was like – ‘Say goodbye, little guy. You’re an idiot’.

They met again nearly twenty years later, after his life had already started to turn around.

But then we became friends around 2001. I met her and her husband. We started hanging together. We became best friends, so she saw both Paulys. And what you and I have dealt with for years and years and years with people saying whatever that magic is that changed you whether it’s from Buddhism or Hinduism or if it’s something we talk about, the Oxford group…I don’t talk about that other organization, but we talk about Oxford group, whatever those are, can we find a voice to share that with the rest of the world. And it’s been the most amazing journey of my life. I am forever grateful to Tracey.

It was Paul’s birthday, the day of the interview and he told Bennington how even though his early career was filled with accolades, awards, TV and movie appearances and Hollywood parties, but its today that he’s doing the most meaningful work of his life.

How do you have the kind of life I’m having? I’m 74 today and the things that are going on in my life are absolutely all a gift of my recovery. All of gift of the process that hopefully is in that book, that you can see your life change in little bits and pieces. And it’s little pieces of a puzzle that when it comes together, all of sudden you find yourself sitting next to Tracey Jackson talking to you about something that is the most important thing in the world to me.

“Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life” is now available on Amazon and at

The Ron and Fez Show is heard weekdays starting a Noon Eastern on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog Comedy Hits 99. You can also listen On Demand on the SiriusXM app and at

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