By Jason SchneiderDespite his 80th birthday looming on April 30, Willie Nelson continues to record and tour as prodigiously as ever. While he has made albums with producers ranging from T-Bone Burnett to Ryan Adams, and collaborated with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Wynton Marsalis over the past decade, new album Let's Face the Music and Dance is a simpler affair, a gorgeously rendered collection of standards by Irving Berlin, Django Reinhardt and other composers who helped form Nelson's musical vocabulary. It's also a showcase for the current incarnation of his band; specifically, the musical bond he has always shared with his piano-playing sister, Bobbie.
"[These] are songs that Bobbie and I grew up playing and we've kept playing our whole lives: 'South of the Border,' 'Walking My Baby Back Home,' 'Face yhe Music,'" Nelson tells Exclaim! "Actually, 'Face the Music' was one we had to learn for this session. [It's] an incredible piece of music. You just can't jump out there and play it without working on it. We worked on it a long time."
Nelson further reveals that he and producer Buddy Cannon are already in the final stages of his next album, a collection of duets with many high-profile female vocalists.
"We cut most of the tracks in Nashville with people like Barbra Streisand, Loretta Lynn, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss and Norah Jones," Nelson says. "Miranda Lambert and I just did one of the last songs that Waylon [Jennings] wrote. I'm looking forward to singing with all the girls in Nashville if I get a chance."
During the conversation, Nelson — a well-known advocate for marijuana law reform — also expressed his support of Colorado and Washington recently legalizing pot for recreational use.
"I think it's a matter of time when the whole country will have to eventually head that way," he says. "I think a lot of the smart thinking people out there are beginning to put it together and are saying, wait a minute, Colorado and Washington are a little more progressive thinking than we are, so we better catch up."
Willie Nelson's current tour brings him to Ontario in June with dates in Parry Sound, Windsor, Toronto and Ottawa. For a full list of dates, head here.
Let's Face the Music and Dance arrives today (April 16) via Sony Legacy.