Today, the one and only Willie Nelson celebrates his 87th birthday — and at 5:20 p.m. EDT tonight (4/29), his archival 1976 appearance on Austin City Limits performing Red Headed Stranger front to back, will be premiered as a way to celebrate the day:
No matter. Instead of having another new album of Willie Nelson music, we can all celebrate the man anyway — and today, to commemorate his birthday, at least two significant musical tributes were premiered for the occasion.
Nathaniel Rateliff released a great music video for “Willie’s Birthday Song,” a collaboration featuring himself, Willie’s sister Bobbie on piano,Willie’s harmonica player Mickey Raphael, The Night Sweats’ Patrick Meese, Mark Shusterman and Jeff Dazey, Jonathan Tyler, Matt Pynn, as well as background vocals by Willie’s sons Lukas and Micah, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Nikki Lane and Courtney Marie Andrews.
Filmed in isolation, it’s a warm, reverent song with an even better video that works as a perfect birthday salute:
Edie Brickell, meanwhile, released “Sing to Me, Willie,” a song featuring the man himself, with all proceeds from the track benefiting MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Explained Brickell about the song in a statement:
“On Christmas Day, 2018, Willie asked me to write a song for us to sing together. What a gift! My father and Texas are my biggest connections to Willie. I never hear his voice without loving memories of people and places back home. If only my dad could have heard this song.”
All of this — the tributes, the warmth, the love — is a testament to Willie Nelson and his reputation among his peers and the innumerable artists he’s influenced over the years. He spans generations, styles, music trends and more, and he’s an icon of the utmost degree.
Happy birthday, Willie!