Showing off his young-at-heart spirit, 85-year-old country legend Willie Nelsonswitched things up at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday (Sept. 19), inviting the host onto his infamous tour bus for a quick chat before he took the stage to perform a very special cover.
“I thought I was going to have you on my show but you’re having me on yours!” Colbert laughed walking onto the bus. The duo talked about Nelson’s long-time involvement with politics and his work as an activist before touching on the 11-time Grammy-award winner’s new album My Way, a tribute to Frank Sinatra.
“How did Sinatra influence you?” Colbert asked. “He’s my favorite singer and I read somewhere a couple years ago that I was his favorite singer, too. We did a commercial together, many years ago for NASA.” Nelson recalled. “You don’t see advertising for space that often… what was about it, that you two liked space so much?” Colbert curiously asked. “I don’t know, somebody asked us to do this commercial together and I thought ‘why not’ and he said ‘why not’ too. Then I did “My Way” with him on his album and we’ve been friends for a long time.”
“Would you wanna go to space?” Colbert wondered. “No…I’ve been there!” Nelson answered with a smirk as Colbert shared a snippet of the truly odd commercial, in which Sinatra aggressively teases pal Nelson about his bandana and long hair.
Before heading to his performance, the duo touched on Nelson’s strong position on the legalization of marijuana and played a game of “Who Would You Wanna Light Up With?” When Colbert showed a picture of President Trump, Nelson quickly remarked “This one might need one bad.”
Performing “Summer Wind” from My Way, Nelson took the stage as the piano intro opened space for his forceful vocal performance and his signature finger-picking acoustic guitar playing. Wearing a black blazer, pigtails and a black cowboy hat, Nelson brought Sinatra back to life, adding a raspy twang to the lyrics of the pop standard: “The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea/ It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me/ All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand/ Two sweethearts and the summer wind,” Nelson sang.