Editor's Note: Accuracy is not guaranteed; you can help us get better by highlighting mistakes and suggesting edits! Please fill out this survey if you wish to learn more about us and our mission or send me an email. Further note: this transcript and its audio are misaligned due to some external factor.
Conan O'Brien here to talk to you about something that's of crucial importance right now in America. That's right, merchandise of all the things happening right now, nothing's more important than what we call Mirch. Team Coco dotcom slash shop is our hub for everything merch related.
I can feel my soul leaving my body. We have new Team Coco masks. Oh, my God. Well, sure. Yeah. We're taking taking every advantage of the covid crisis by making some Team Coco masks. No idea if they're medically sound as well as a variety of T-shirts, phone cases, coffee mugs and tumblers from all our podcasts, including our summer sports series. I'm sorry, this is not the time in America. On top of all that, we did a special capsule collection with Jordan Slansky and most recently added a new limited edition world's worst assistant collection made for our very own Seona MUF session.
Hey, stop bitching about quarantine and covid and get out there and go to Team Coco Dotcom shop to check out our merch.
Get your priorities straight. Hi, my name is only Nelson, and I feel great about the encounter on Friday.
We are going to be friends, Shakuntala. Hello there, this is Conan O'Brien kind of working on my voice these days. What do you do on your phone for what we're doing the opening of the show? I'm paying attention. I laughter Well, you lose your seat. I swear to God, I'm starting the show. And, you know, I'm starting to want to look over and you're holding your phone and replying to who you replying to? Honestly, Liza, my wife.
Yes. I don't reply to my wife, OK? I haven't responded to any of her emails in like four years. We have lawyers for that. I'm worried. What are the lawyers do? Trust me, we have what's called a slow divorce going on. You're separating over a thirty five year period very slowly. And this is the first thing is no email exchanges for a year. But we still live together and we're quite affectionate. But this is the slow this is it's a slow separation.
Imagine paint slowly peeling off a house. But anyway, I can't believe you were on the. Yeah, just put that away time in recent memory. Yes, it's been on the turn it over so you can't. Matt, what are you doing real quick. I'm sorry. Yeah. I'm getting on my feet. Doesn't have a phone. Matt has a pneumatic tube messages. I live at Home Depot. Yes. He's so in love with technology of the forties and he opens it up and there's a vacuum sound.
Oh, look at this. Hmm. I have tubes going all it's going all his friends houses in the different stores to use this. He has pneumatic tubes going everywhere. Excuse me, fellows, I've got to check this out. You better be careful because you recently texted me some blackmail information, some collateral about you. We'll get to that in a second, I promise. We will get to that in a second. I just want to establish that Sony is going to be off the phone from now on.
I'm on the phone. I was listening to you, though. I could do both. No, no. Your whole generation thinks they can multitask. And that's why so many people are dying. Oh, what? Yeah. Come on, your generation. Like, I'm going to send this text and clean this shotgun blooey. Oops. You sound like such an old man. It's true. You always do everything. Oh, I'm going to operate on this.
I while I pick out the right emoji to send to my friend. Oops. Blind for life. No it's true. These are all you know what I'm reading from the newspaper. Oh really. Yeah. Which newspaper. Oh please. The one everyone reads. Oh that one. OK, have you even said the title of this podcast. Yeah. Well who cares if people have clicked on Conan O'Brien needs a friend. I love it. You're such a stickler.
You're such an angel stickler boy. It sounds like a device. What. Freshen up the marriage. I bought myself an angel stickler. Oh excuse me. This is good stuff. Since the divorce, please. It's a slow divorce. It's a thirty five year slow separation. By the time you finally separate, the kids are like in their fifties. They don't care. No, it's what I'm saying is true. What I'm saying is, oh OK.
If you say it's true then I guess it's true. The newspaper that everyone reads says that my generation blinds people. You multitask too much. I'm sorry. I'm good at it. No, you're not. Clearly not, because you never know. We were doing a podcast. I heard what you said. What did I say? You are very guilty, by the way. Guilty. Guilty. You say you said you are not taking bottle of focus yourself.
I think I am a laser beam. I am a laser beam of focus. You could use me to open a bank, safe your napalm. You're just a globulus.
Yes. And I'd foliate trees but so what. No, but I will say that I didn't think it was necessary to say and this is Conan O'Brien needs a friend the podcast where you don't. I mean I think I was just trying to undercut the bickering and get us back on track, you know, although you did gang up on me. But thank you. I'm sorry. I do apologize about that, because if I don't have you, I don't have to.
Thank you. I forgive. You have to. And what is that's the pneumatic tube and that you just got another message. You're just a straw boater is ready. You just this is you have to drive to look at bluffer you from you. In fact, you said anyway, thanks for your expertise and know that I have a working nineteen forties rotary phone in my office that I use regularly. Find ammunition for our next. Oh I did. I thought it would be only fair to be honest with you that I'm just as bad as you.
Andy Richter bunch of years ago gave me a repurposed nineteen forties phone. It's gorgeous, it's got a rotary dial and just that great heavy weight of an old phone and I have it on my desk and it works because it's, the electronics have been updated and I love picking that thing up and making a car.
Oh I know but I find when I do it it's cool. It's so cool. But I love yelling into that thing. I become a different person. You know, the way you when you put on a certain kind of like a really good suit, it does change the way you carry yourself. When I talk on this phone, I start telling people there's a fire. McCready's boss, get all the boys over there, see what he. Hey, what do you say we got to go.
Come on. Hey, you know, I'm just I love that. I love, you know, we've got to get some warm milk. Where's the milk, man? You know, I want to I want cream and a giant glass pitcher. If you know what, though, if man did this, you would just know exactly. You know what I would I would do. I would be understanding and I appreciate, man. OK, is it Macs or Mac?
I don't know.
But why don't you call me on your Klondyke six five hundred four. I would love to find out. Hello operator. Get me Klondyke five two two. Yes. Private eye generic private Max Goyle private eye. I want Max quality private eye. Hey, I hear you're the top dick in this town. Everything's Jake. See what's the case. I want you to tail this son of my obsession. She's a leggy dame who likes I think she's buying gummy bears down at the wharf that are laced with PCP.
She's a shady type. She's always high as a kite. I think she likes those jazz cigarettes, you know what I'm saying? She gets them from the sale down at the wall. I want you to tell me he's a reefer addict from way back. She's got giant hair. What the hell? Massive hair. I don't like this big. This could be a rough one. You're gonna have to go to Altadena. It could get nasty over there.
Altadena six five oh, Jena six to two. We're looking for a sort of obsession. Disappeared a took off for some spiked gummy worms. Gee, I can't even join in on this. No, you can't. You know why you haven't spent thousands of hours watching shitty old movies like Kolbeinn, huh? I would be so happy if there was still an operator. It's kind of what scary because we've come back around because it used to be we just pick up the phone and go, Hello Beatrice, connect me to Magali and Beatrice would be the local operator and we've come back to that now.
Siri, we have not in a way, we have, you know, series like, Hey, Siri, what's the temperature today? Or Siri, find me a sex shop that doesn't rat out celebrities. So it's so specific, not that specific. It's very, very specific. The one on Robertson. Oh, this must be Conan O'Brien is coming in tonight. You were just there two weeks ago. I know Siri. I was Siri was like Beatrice, the old operator.
Did you seem to have a problem? You've been to that sex shop nine times in two days. That's none of your business, Siri. I've got to get myself an anal stickler and I'm in a rush. Oh, no. All right. We have no time for this foolishness. I want to call it Seona. You haven't introduced me in Matt yet, have you? Oh, yeah. This is my assistant, Sona, a fourteen year old girl who's addicted to her phone.
And Matt Gawley, someone I respect who's very good at his job.
What the fuck? What. Sorry, I do respect you, Matt. You do a very good job and you know it. Thank you. I appreciate it. So do you. Oh, this. God awful. I hate this. This is gross. Hey, you're trying to turn me in Matt against each other. I know what you're doing. It's working. I guess today we there's no time to waste. There's no time. You have to do it.
Yeah. And I will do it right now. You're going to be quiet. My guest today. No, seriously, we have a legend on today in addition to me. That's true. Legends. Here we go. Oh, that was insane, David. Just what even I even though I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed. This is a redheaded stranger in a real way. It's a little long for an album title. No, I am seriously odd and thrilled.
My guest today is a legendary musician, a Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter with seven studio albums. His latest album, First Rose of Spring, is available now. He also has a new book, which is absolutely fantastic, Me and Sister Bobby, True Tales of the Family Band. I am honored and just floored that he is with us today.
Willie Nelson, welcome. You've been very good to me. You and Waylon Jennings came on my late night show, I think I was just about three years in. I couldn't believe that I was in the same room with you guys. And I'll never forget this. You handed over your iconic guitar trigger that you've had every great artist in the world sign the things falling apart. And you said sign it. And you said, don't just do it with a felt tip.
You got to take a ballpoint pen and you got to dig it in there and sign it. And I signed my name so small because I was ashamed. I was ashamed to be on that great guitar. It's the smallest. I never signed my name, Leon Russell, the guy that started all that. He had me sign his guitar one time and I said, Fine, I'll sign yours. You'll sign mine. And he was the first guy to sign my guitar.
Well, it is amazing. I cannot believe you've kept that guitar going. All your fans. I mean, that guitar is as big a star as you. That guitar, they set it out on stage before you perform. They put out trigger and fans rush up to take a picture of trigger. And otherwise, if someone didn't know better. Unremarkable Martin nylon string guitar. You and that guitar are equally famous and it's still with you. You were his trigger right now.
You got it nearby. Oh, back over there. All right. We'll just take care of that, for God's sake. Yeah. My favorite guitar player has always been Django Reinhardt. He played Angelical guitar and I tried to find one that sounded like his. And it took a long time to find Trigger, but I finally found one. You know, it's incredible. You just mentioned Django Reinhardt, and that's kind of where I wanted to start.
And I'm going to say this about anyone who endeavors to be artistic in any field. You are the example that I like to use as someone who refused to compromise and demanded to do it their way. You are not a snob or singular about it has to be one style. You grew up as a boy and I even realize this in your little community in Texas, you were hearing not just the blues and not just spiritual music. There was a Czech population.
So you were listening to polka? Absolutely. And me, he was just six miles south of Ablate where I grew up. And they were a lot of Catholics there. And they like to drink beer and dance. So really, I know about the Catholics. OK, you don't have to lecture me about the Catholics I was familiar with and I'm sorry they were around, but what are you going to do? What are you going to do? You know, it's amazing because you mentioned you drew on all these different styles you had.
You learn to play poker and you didn't have. I think some people get very set in their minds about what makes, say, great country music. It didn't feel to me like that was ever your interest. You wanted to make music and you drew on anything that you could get your ears on, literally anything. Yeah, I loved all kind of music and still do. And my sister plays everything beautifully and she could play songs like Stardust Moonlight in Vermont.
I was really young, so that was a brand new thing for me and I learned a lot just sitting on a stool. Yeah, I want to mention this. This is as good a time as any could you just mentioned it. You've written a book with your sister, me and sister Bobby. And this is the story Willie Nelson and Bobby Nelson of you and your sister. This is an absolutely lovely book. It's heartbreaking at times. It's beautiful.
You'll do a chapter, then she'll do a chapter, then you'll do a chapter and she'll do a chapter. And you're both amazing musicians. It feels like you're trading licks. It really does feel like you're trading licks about your incredible life. It's a beautiful book. It really is a book about family and it's about despair and it's about pushing your way through that despair. The sheer volume of difficulty that you and Bobby went through is mind boggling. Well, yeah, especially my sister.
She had to go through a lot of real bad things. Something I love about the book is how candid she is about the pain she experienced growing up that you both experienced. You're both very candid in this book. You both have each other and you have your grandmother. Your parents are out of the picture pretty early. You have your grandmother, your grandfather, he passes away when you're fairly young and your grandmother is really the rock who you hang on to and you've got you and your sister.
It's unbelievable how candid she is about her different relationships, her unhappy marriages, losing her kids at one point only to and. And later, to get them back, your difficulty in the business, I don't think most people really understand really what a hard time you had four years getting started. I was just talking to somebody while ago about one night in Ridge Top Tennessee, where I used to live in Hancock, good songwriter, buddy of mine. We just started to write some songs that we wrote seven songs.
And the last song that we wrote was What Can You Do to be Now? The next day, my house bird. Yeah, yeah. Your house in Rich Town burned down because you wrote that song. So I just want to put that out there to the insurance company in case you got money. I think they should get that money back. But first of all, you sold encyclopedias door to door for a while and you were pretty good at it.
Do you ever think I should have stuck with the encyclopedias? Well, I'm back selling books again. That's right. You got me helping you do. I guess I'm not getting shit. I'm not getting paid anything. I can't believe, you know, one of the things that's. So your personality comes through so strongly in this book and your sister testifies to it. You are always smooth with a line and people always liked you. You were likable and you would use that.
You used everything you could to get by. When you were selling encyclopedias door to door, you still remember how you'd get your foot in the door. These people couldn't even afford an encyclopedia and you felt bad about it. But you had to make some money. You would sell them a full set last to try. You know, we get on the phone and call people on the phone. I had to connect with the phone department so I could get all the new phone listings.
So I'd call them up and try to say, hey, I'm with the American Association and I'm trying to sell you a set of books. I just want to talk to you about it. We put water in your homes without the normal cost. Would it be something that you would appreciate? Thank you very much. I'll see you at seven o'clock. Yeah. And then you'd show up and get your foot in the door, say I'm going to sell you something more valuable than gold.
I think that was your line, wasn't it? A friend of yours? She had Buckethead with my trainer. He took me to show me how to do it, you know, and one time we were in this house and these people said, well, we never make a decision like this and spend this much money was like three, four hundred dollars without praying about it. And I said, oh, by all means, let us pray. So you got on the ground, you got you got your needs.
We all got to go. It was through. They said, well, I don't think we can buy them because the Lord didn't tell us to buy all these books. And Jerry said, wait until you're not too well, Willie, I'm going to get on my knees for me and Sister Bobby, and I'm going to tell everybody if you want. This is just an absolutely beautiful book. And I think it's inspirational. I mean, I can't even begin to list all the jobs you had besides selling encyclopedias.
You sold vacuum cleaners. You you did auto simple auto repair. You were a D.J. for, I mean, a piece of your career. And you were you were good at it. Oh. What do you think made you a good D.J.?
I'm full of bull. Well, let me tell you, that helps a lot in this. I've relied on that plenty in my career just to get by. But, you know, you've always had a great sense of humor. I'm told that Johnny Cash, when he was feeling down, used to pick up the phone and call you and say, Willie, tell me a joke. And he wanted a dirty joke more than once that happened. And I always had a dirty joke for you just always.
And if you heard one, you'd go, I got to remember this for Johnny. This will help Johnny out of the blues. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. To sign on the whorehouse. Sorry, we're closed because it.
You know, it's amazing in this story to tell and that your sister tells you obviously have talent and early on you start writing songs and you start having some success as a songwriter. But Nashville wanted to put you into this formula. And I've seen the pictures. We've all seen the pictures of Willie Nelson in the nineteen sixties in Nashville. And you're wearing a turtleneck and a sports jacket and you've got a short haircut. And anyone who sees it now says, how did this happen to Willie Nelson?
It's because you hadn't figured out how to get out of that system yet and how to just be yourself. Well, that's true. I mean, there was a certain thing you did and certain things you didn't do, and I couldn't go along with a lot of it. So I decided I'd come back down here where I play the broken folk or whatever, and they don't care what I wear. Right.
And it's it's an amazing transition because you're living in Tennessee and you're working in Nashville and you're trying very hard to fit a certain mold. And you had a lot of despair. I mean, I saw this in that terrific Ken Burns documentary, Country Music. You got one so full of despair. You lay down on the street in Nashville and thought, I hope a car runs over me and you just lay there. Fortunately, it was around midnight and there wasn't that much stress.
Thank God. Thank God there was no traffic that night. Do you imagine someone driving? I mean, I'm just thinking about the drivers perspective. Oh, look, it's Willie Nelson lying on the street. I think I'll just go around him. I think people I mean, there was so much despair. Then your place burns down in Tennessee and you say, screw it. To put it a little more kindly, I'm out of here. And you came back to Texas.
And then I mean, I seen the footage. You transform, you become more and more organically yourself. You got the bandana, you've got the hair, you've got the beard, and you're playing the kind of music you want to play with your friends. And everything explodes for you. Well, yeah, it was a good decision. I came back down here where I knew everybody. They know me. We had our first full July picnic and those weren't great.
So we had two, three. And people enjoy getting together, throwing away all their political ideas, whatever they might have or whatever, and listen to music. And I found that to be a good therapy for me, too.
What's amazing is to see you when you fall into that groove and you're playing with your friends, you're playing with Waylon and you're in you're in you're in Texas and you're letting your freak flag fly and you're finding that music. It's all working for you. You look so happy, like it took years and years and years, but you finally became the person you always were. Does that make sense? Well, pretty much. I, I didn't change much.
I haven't changed much since I was a kid. Pretty much nothing really has happened to make me change my way of thinking. That helps a lot. I've always had this theory. I don't know what you think about it, but for years I was trying to be a certain kind of person that I thought people wanted me to be. And the minute I got I just gave up on that and started to more do things that I thoroughly enjoyed and more thoroughly be myself is when I really felt like I connected with my audience.
And I feel like I'm a much bigger scale. That's what you did? I think so. And Leon Russell showed me a lot and taught me a lot about people and music and how to entertain a crowd and how much influence the music can have on people and vice versa. It's a great energy exchange that takes the place up there and it's something the say money can't buy with my kids. So it's good to you know, I always say I do this job for free and then I make sure we edit that part out because I like the money.
I think you like the money. And but it is true that you get into this place where watching you and watching some of those shows, especially from the mid nineteen seventies, are after seventy five from seventy five on, I would say with red headed stranger. I see anyone who enjoys the vibe at a Grateful Dead show was getting the same thing watching you and your friends play.
Yeah, it's still the same way because audiences. The Rolling Stone audience. My audience. Pretty much the same people, the people who really enjoy music, getting together, clapping there has lots of pretty good therapy. Just clap your has a story about this guy in India who got up every morning and ran down the street clapping his hands and saying, and next thing you know, people are joining him. And then there was hundreds of people out there in the morning and their ritual was getting in their hands.
I hope he's gotten some help since then. I hope it has some good shit over there. I mean, I think one morning, that's fine, but if he starts doing that every day, you got to start wondering, what's he smoking and is he OK? And and did he get back to the running? And clapping has got to stop. You know, I have to say something that I didn't appreciate. I've always been a fan of your music.
And then it took a while for me to realize what an incredible guitarist you are and a singer songwriter. And it's always felt to me, doesn't have to be a great guitar player. A singer songwriter can be. And I don't mean to disparage them, but a Dylan or a John Lennon can be a fine acoustic player for banging out a melody. They just have to be able to do their song. You are an incredible artist on on the guitar.
And I was going to say you're a much better guitar player than you have to be. Well, I always overdid everything, so I mean, I just enjoy some of the solos you play, especially on Trigger. They're incredibly evocative. They almost bring tears to my eyes there. They would if I had emotions and a real soul. Really, I don't know what happened. I lost that a long time ago. But but you're playing is so beautiful.
And it's so interesting that you say you're influenced by Django Reinhardt, because I think there might be people out there right now not to don't know who he was, but he was a player from the nineteen thirties and forties who played because he had been in a terrible accident, his court hand. He could only use really two fingers. People told him you'll never play the guitar again. His accident happened while he was a guitarist and he developed a style.
And I think it sounds somewhat similar to you in that you were determined. Norah Jones. Yes. Yes. She said that I played like Django with one singer, not. Let's pretend that's a compliment. I said it was and I was. I was amazed, too, that I think your decision to amplify, to just drop an amplifier in trigger and say, no, I'm not going to go with this with a big electric. That's what everybody else does.
I'm just going to put an amplifier in this essentially classical guitar, this beat up classical guitar. And one of the things I got to tell you is I always know it's you even before you start singing. If I've got the radio on and I hear that guitar, I know it's you. Yeah, it's got its own thing. And I think it sounds like you and your voice and that I don't know how long it took you to figure out.
This is the sound for me. You must have known pretty quickly. This is it. Well, again, it's like when I play the guitar, it reminded me of the angelical guitar that I played and I really love that sound. And so I hung on to that guitar and instead of trying to play another guitar, put some wires in there and keep it going. You know, your sister was incredible as incredible piano player and played the Hammond organ and figured that out.
And I mean, she tells her story. But the theme of this book is really family. You guys, no matter what was happening, you'd always find a way. Sometimes you'd be living in different parts of the United States. You always found a way to come back together. And that seems to have been a big theme in your life, having so many keep keeping everyone close. Yeah, we still say hello every day. That's it. Hello.
Hello. Goodbye. Well, what a rich relationship. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Some some things you don't have to. Exactly. Exactly. Sometimes it's nice to throw one other thing in there but like whatever. Or just you know, may I look at that tree. You, you see why no one wants me to write a song. I did a concert tour. It was mostly comedy, but I threw some music in there and I would do I don't know if you remember this don't.
But I would end every show with on the road again. I would play it. That's absolutely gorgeous song. I butchered it. I probably hurt that song standing and I apologize for that. I've always felt a little guilty about that. But good Lord, does that get people moving that song? Well, yeah. Well, thank you for saying. I love to hear you do it. You really don't.
OK, this is no lie, but the product I'm talking about now is a product which is in my refrigerator every day, I think I, I have this bread every day. Open up the refrigerator. Dave's killer bread. Have you had this son? Have you had Dave's killer bread?
Oh, I have had Dave's. But I don't know why you said that in such a weird way. It came out that way. Yeah. I hate you.
Have you have. I know they sent you some. I have. They sent this lot and I, I meant to say it in a way where I was like, oh I love Dave's but gets much creepier. Yeah.
It sounds like you're in a cult or something. I love this bread. I really do. It's the bread that's in our refrigerator. I really like it. And it's got all these great seeds in it and it makes it's great on a sandwich or it makes actually really good toast to Dave's killer bread. Excellent toast. But then I found out something about the company that I didn't know.
They're really into second chance employment, which I think is an amazing, an amazing mission.
One in four Americans has some kind of criminal record and sometimes they have a hard time getting a second chance. Fresh start. Dave's killer bread employs those people, gives them a chance, lets them rebuild their life, turn their life around. And that's kind of the purpose of every loaf that they make. And I'm telling you, sometimes someone has a great cause and the products, OK, this is really good bread.
I like this bread. I if I could, I would keep this bread in my pocket and use it as a wallet, you know, sort of put the money on the credit cards in between two slices of Dave Keiller bread and then. But it would get soggy. I would sweat.
Would you do that. Why. What did you just eat it?
I'm going to be honest with you. I started that sentence not knowing where I was going and making a wallet out of Dave's killer bread. Not a good idea, but I like what they're doing. I really like their bread. And I like this idea of giving people a fresh start, second chance employment. So learn more about what they're doing at Dave's killer bread dotcom slash second chances. That's Dave's killer bread dotcom slash. Second chances don't make a wallet out of it.
That was a stupid idea. Hey, best selling, first hour long stand up special is currently streaming on HBO, Max, and if you haven't watched it get to it, this is the real deal. She is a true talent. Her special is full of honesty as well as some wild and hilarious stories. I couldn't be more proud to have helped produce this project, and all we did was really give Beth the microphone and shine a light on her.
And she did it all and has gotten so much praise for this special best selling girl. Daddy is on HBO, Max, now, and we are very proud of her. Go check it out.
I got this nice package from Willie Nelson and I was so excited. When you get a package from Willie Nelson, you think one thing, don't you, Sona? I hope for some type of marijuana. Yes. Yeah. And what we get is coffee now. It looks good. It looks good. Willie, don't smoke it. Too late. Late, Willie. I smoked four pounds of coffee and I've been up for 17 days here, but I wrote some incredible music you sent me.
I mean, you've got Willie's remedy, dark roast, whole being coffee. And it's just organically it's made of organically grown American hemp. I'm just saying, when I saw hemp, you understand it's in a brown paper bag and it's hemp from Willie Nelson, whether it be a misunderstanding. No, no, no, no. Don't go there. Don't go there. Don't go there. Do you smoke pot on the roof of the White House, you mean?
I heard of it. I mean, you heard about that. You were there. You can't say I heard you were there. I almost remember. Willie, I got to tell you something. We are at a time in our nation's politics where people are very divided and there's a lot of anger. I think everybody can agree that smoking pot on the roof of the White House is something that could bring the United States together, I think. Yeah, brought me together with Jimmy Carter's son, I believe.
Oh, yeah. We also won down to the basement where they have a bowling alley down there. And I didn't realize it. But we then with that night, I got to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. So it's pretty cool place. Right. So can I just paint the picture? You're on the roof getting high, then you're in the bowling alley in the basement of the White House and then you're in the Lincoln Bedroom, probably having much better dreams and Abraham Lincoln ever had.
Maybe so maybe I'm told I'm a historian. Lincoln used to hang out in that bowling alley sometimes. And when the Civil War on the roof. Yeah. When the Civil War wasn't going well, he had he took up a little bit and then he'd go to bed and everything was copasetic. And after that, I cannot believe I think this is your this is your seventieth album that you've just put out. It sounds about right. Are you even counting at this point?
I mean, that's just. Oh, no, no, no. It's it's incredible. And I would think that you have pretty much people say like, well, they look at someone like a Willie Nelson. They say, well, he must have met everybody that he wanted to meet. I can't think of a recording artist that you haven't worked with. Was there someone who you idolized that you didn't get to work with? Well, yeah, I would have liked to have done something with Hank Williams Jr.
. Oh, my God. Yeah. But I was fortunate enough to get to play with a lot of my heroes like Bob Wills. In fact, when I was 14 years old, I booked Bob Wills. I was the promoter on a gig at Whitney, Texas, and bought him for like a thousand dollars back in those days and didn't make a quarter. But Bob Wills, so and in a way, you made no money, but you got to meet him, which is the things we will do to meet our heroes and got to sing with it.
And the funny part of it was my phrasing is kind of crazy. So say I didn't know who to come in and do my. Oh, that's right. I know that. Yeah, I used to do that and I wanted to tease my brothers. I go, oh, and they would beat the shit out of me Willie. But I had it coming. You never got to meet Hank Williams. Did you ever meet him? No, I never did.
I always wanted to. But he passed away before I had a chance. He was only twenty nine. I know you just mentioned your phrasing and I was thinking about it. Your phrasing. Is very distinct. I don't know if I'm if I'm describing it correctly, but it feels like you're almost it's like you're risking being behind the beat. Is that a fair way to say it? Yeah, the way that yeah. It's like you're holding back just a little bit and it works beautifully and it's distinctive to you, but it it's not right in the pocket, so to say.
Is that right? Well, my favorite all time singer is Frank Sinatra, and one of his greatest talents was in Frasier. And I learned a lot about just listening to Frank. And again, who would have thought that you would list as your people that inspired you, Django Reinhardt or Frank Sinatra? But to me, it's having a liberal I don't mean this in a political way, but a liberal open mind that's open to anything. And if it's polka, it's polka or if it's Spanish music, it's Spanish music.
And there are a lot of people that might think, well, if you grew up in this rural area in Texas, you might only be exposed to one type of person. And you made it very clear that you weren't you had to work in the fields picking cotton. And so you were meeting and talking to and befriending black people, Hispanic people, European immigrants. You met everybody. My grandmother used to say the definition of music was saying that's pleasing to the ear.
Wow. I thought that was pretty good. Yeah. And not not getting rigid about it, not getting in and in no way being as something that breaks down walls. Absolutely makes people feel good. I mean, you said for you growing up and experiencing and for your sister all kinds of difficulties and heartbreaking situations, music was what could make you feel better. And so for you, writing that music was trying to give that to somebody else. Yeah.
And some of my greatest experiences was out working in the cotton fields with African-Americans and with Latinos, with everybody. And I would guess they would sing to me. And every year I'd hear the mariachi. So I got over here and I hear the blues over here. So I learned a lot about music just by picking cotton. You go back there ever. I mean, I know it's a tiny place, but do you go back to this this tiny little place that you were from, Abbott, Texas?
Absolutely. My sister and I own the Methodist Church there, and they still have services every Sunday except music and whatever, and they're doing well down there. So, yeah, we still have connections. And I was fascinated to it's in your book that you taught Sunday School for a while and you enjoyed it. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I did. Until they asked you. They found out what you did for a living. Is that true?
They they weren't they weren't too thrilled with the Sunday school teacher who played honky tonks. Is that right? Well, the funny part of it was I was playing to the people on Saturday nights that I was singing to on Sunday morning. It was this great part of the book where you're teaching Sunday School and yeah, you sing, you sing to them on Saturday night, Sunday. They'd be there a little hung over, but they'd be there at church.
But then one of the church dignitaries came up and talked to you and said, well, you're teaching Sunday school. Can I ask you what you do? And he was telling you he didn't think that you should be teaching Sunday school because you were playing these honky tonks. And he said, Do you think God is here in church? He's not in the honky tonks. And you said God is everywhere. What are you talking about? God's in the honky tonk as well?
Yeah. And God put somebody in the honky tonk. God kept putting in requests, blue eyes cryin in the rain. Come on, God, I played it four times. God, I wanted to thank God you've been over serve God. You know, it's funny you talk about this a lot in the book and that you are such in my encounters with you. You're you're such a kind, nice, gentle, witty guy. And you talk very frankly in this book about how when you would drink, you'd become a different person and that you'd be looking for a fight.
Yeah, my friend all time, good friend Paul English used to be my kind of a go with me wherever we go, because whenever I get drunk, I want to fight. So he has to be there to help get me out of it, keep me alive. And he would usually be too drunk to stand up. But you roll up a john and it's the next thing you know, I'm out in the bed, sound asleep. Right.
So what to do. Right. Right. That's a good friend to have. He always has a fat choice. Yeah, absolutely. But, you know, that is. The thing that changed your life is you switched over to marijuana and you said it really did help mellow you out and helped you be more contemplative and helped you get off of the cigarettes and the booze, which made a huge difference in your life. Absolutely. Absolutely. The best thing that I did really all my life, I smoked something that I started out smoking, cedar bark and grapevine, anything that would burn.
So do you recommend that you recommend smoking cedar bark? No, I wasn't that good. Hey, well, we have a contest called Understatement of the Decade. And you just won. You just won. Understatement of the year. Yes. It's not that good. I got to tell you, Kohnen don't because I was thinking about doing it today. I don't know if we're going to have you do a public service announcement, kids. Willie Nelson here not to smoke.
Go smoke cedar bark. I know you want to. I know you're feeling like this is what you got to do. I have to say this book is an absolute I started reading it and I couldn't put it down. And again, I think it's a tribute to I go back to this all the time, but most of the artists I really admire had to suffer a lot. And that's unfortunately probably part of the creative process that you're the hard times you went through were probably essential to you being able to write those songs, don't you think?
Yeah, a friend of mine, a preacher, said one time, that's when you lose a life or something. So it's not something you get over, but it's something you get through. And it was a good way of looking at it. In your case, it's a mixture probably of you had a lot of talent, but you also went through an incredible amount of pain and disappointment over different periods of time. Plus, you listened to every single kind of music, and when you put that all in a blender, you start waking up and making it sound too easy.
But you've got a song like Hello Walls or Funny How Time Slips Away or Nightlife or Crazy It comes to you and it comes to you because you put in all that effort and then when your back was turned, it it was delivered to you. Does that sound feasible? Yeah, crazy. It was an easy one to write because I've always felt a little bit crazy. Yeah, I don't mind that a little bit. It's OK. But when Christy Kline recorded that song, she just such an incredible job that she made that song the all time favorite jukebox.
So I know. I mean, that changed everything because. Well, first of all, I love the story of how you wrote that song and someone came to you and said this would be great for Patsy Cline, who at the time is probably the biggest country star. And he said, let's go wake her up at home and you can play it for her.
And that's I mean, it does not seem like a good time to pitch a song to somebody. You guys woke up Patsy Cline, is that right? Well, her husband, guy named Charlie Duke, was in his alkies lounge in Nashville. We were there together. It was almost midnight. And I had played crazy for you. And he said, he's got to hear this. I said, no, it's too late. He said, come on, show you want to hear it.
So I didn't want to get out of the car. He went she come back outside the car, got me made me come in and crazy. She recorded it. So next week. Oh, my God. And it's the most popular jukebox song of all time ever. Yeah. I mean, good for her too, for I would have if anyone wakes me up in the middle of the night, even if it's you, Willie, if Willie Nelson wakes me up at 2:00 in the morning and says I got a hit song for you, I say, get the fuck out of my house.
Get out from under my bed. Willie, I'm tired of you pitching me songs in the middle of the night. I need my sleep. I got shit to do. Well, that story is such an iconic song and I think that probably gave you some freedom because then you start getting what used to be called maybe they still call it mailbox money. Absolutely. That's the danger. And helped you get on your feet a little bit. Yeah. And it allowed me to I stayed in Nashville for a year and didn't do anything but write songs and raise hogs.
Lost a fortune raising hogs. By the way, you lost money raising hogs. Oh, God. You were the hogs embezzling. What how does that how did that what happened? How did you lose money raising hogs. I bought them for X amount per pound and then sold them them for six months and sold them later for less than what I paid for that is. Not a sound business theory. No, it's not. They teach that at Harvard Business School.
They say don't do the it's called the Willie Nelson hog raising method. It's called it's a classic mistake. It won't work. Well, I want to do this. I want to make sure that I get out the word on First Rose of Spring. It's available now. And I think it's your 17th studio album. Just a stunning achievement. And I very sincerely recommend that everybody read me and Sister Bobby True Tales of the Family Band by Willie Nelson and his sister, Bobby Nelson, because it's about pretty much everything.
It's about family. It's about creativity. It's about pushing through adversity. It's about American history of the 20th century and songwriting and the music business and the good times and the bad times. And I can't say enough good about it. It really is a stunning piece of work. Willie, I want to let you go, but I will say this drive in here today to talk to you. I said out loud in my car, I get to talk to Willie Nelson.
I've had the chance to do that a few times. And any time I think about that, I almost teared up because I did something right in the previous life. You it's just a blessing. It really is a blessing to talk to you. And it really is, as the day is not over yet. All right. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to smoke. I'm going to smoke some of the coffee you sent me there.
Yes. And that's going to keep me up for about five days. I'm going to start driving and I should be in Texas and it's going to take about about 10 hours, come off and I'll bring I'll bring my nineteen forty six. Martin and I will play it. I'll just give it to you. Really. Nelson, thank you. God bless and be well. You two have a good take care. Hey, everybody, it's your pal Conan O'Brien that's seems like I'm supposing they're my pal, they might not be.
You don't think you're there, pal. They could be randomly trying this podcast out. Oh, I think they're all your friends. OK, hey, everybody, it's your acquaintance Conan here to tell you about a new Team Coco Originals Web series featuring some of our favorite stand up comedians from Conan on TBS. Each week, Conan supervising producer J.P. Buck is going to sit down with a different comedian to watch and rehash a set they performed on the show.
You'll find out how comedians workshop their jokes, how their friends and family reacted, how g.P helped shape their sets, and what their experience was backstage on Conan. I'm a big believer in showing people the process, and if you're interested in comedy or just a fan, this would be a really good exercise to check this out. This season is going to be joined by comedians Daniel Sloss, bestselling Solomon Georgio, Genov Friedman and more. You can find full episodes of the setup weekly on the Team Coco live Instagram page and on Team Koko's YouTube.
Check this out. It's a good idea. Hey, everybody, Conan O'Brien here to let you know about Team Koko's virtual comedy show hosted by my good friend, the very funny comedian Moses Storm, Moses Storeman, Friends Dreams. Every other Thursday on Team Koko's YouTube Twitch and Facebook pages, past guests have been Chris Read, Joakim Booster, Rachel Bloom, bestselling Kal Penn, Run Frenches, Angela Johnson and so many more. It's really a fantastic comedy show, Jampacked, featuring some of my favorite people, and I'd like you to check it out.
If you get a chance. Follow Team Coco live on Instagram for the latest show dates and guest lineups. All right, we are back. Know people are always stunned by how much my mom looks like me. I'm going to show you a picture. Yes, she's so sweet. Literally, if you look at pictures of my mom when she was a little girl, it looks like me when I was a little girl. Pretty. I mean, she looks so much like me.
And I do think she is I've said this before, but I do think my mother is probably one of the reasons I'm in comedy. She's funny in her way, in her own way, unique way. But she's was like a perfect straight person. You know, my mother always wanted to be she always had a little bit of a regal quality and she wanted to be well mannered and she was taught to be well mannered and to sort of talk like Margaret Dumont, the woman in the Marx Brothers movies, and sort of be like, well, OK, everybody.
And if company was over, she was a little formal. And that would make me want to act like Groucho because she said, all right, now, please, you know, walk this way, if you will. And I said, well, if I could walk that way, you know, but I'm serious. It was that would make me go even further. Right. So I would see things around my mom and she would just say, well, that's just foolish.
I don't like that at all. You stop it. And most of the time I was being silly. But then I realized about 20, 15 years ago, I was talking to my mom and I realized that anything I said, she thought I was lying. She just assumed I was being a wise guy even when I was telling the truth. So we were in a restaurant and we were looking at the menus. And then my mom said, puttanesca sauce, puttanesca sauce, which is puttanesca sauce.
And they said, well, it's actually used to be favored by in poorer neighborhoods in Italy. They would just take anything that they had and they put it together. And it was called Puto is is a woman of the night. So the translation is literally it's the horse sauce. Putin esca means it's the horse. And she went, stop that. That's not funny. I don't like that even food. And I'd say, I'm not kidding. That's what she said to me right now, what Putin asked me.
And I said it means and then I would try and say it a nicer way. It's women who maybe would walk the streets at night. I don't like to stop it. Just stop it. I don't like this even fooling. And that was her big thing. I don't like even fooling. And then she would always call me. I guess it's an old Irish saying, although I've never met an Irishman who knows this, saying, I should say you're just being a bald stump statue.
I mean, I'm a bald stump. I'm telling you what Putin Nasca means. It's the source. How old are you at this point? I'm like forty four. And I'm in a restaurant trying to convince her. And she's like, you're just being a wise guy. And sort of in this tone of like, we're going to straighten you out when we get home. You're going to go back to your room. No, no, we're not.
I'm drove us here. I'm getting a hip replaced tomorrow. I'm a mature man and that's what Putin esca means. But it really does, I think. I mean, look it up. Someone validate this unless it's some say the name originated in the brothels of the Spanish borders. Whore is Putina. And yes, OK, some say that that name originated. This is the actual definition. Is that puta. Yes. Which was the term for women who worked in a brothel.
Prostitutes. Thank you. You can see prostitutes, OK, but really dancing around. Not sure about puto. I know.
Well, what I'm saying is I was right and I was trying to explain to my mother in nice terms, she was like, I don't like this, I don't like her. Big thing was I don't like to see even fooling around. I would say I'm not fooling. This is your fault. Why is it my fault? You you tell me seeing so many times that are serious. And I think the number one question I ask you all the time is, are you doing a bit.
Yeah. You're the boy who joked Wolf. Yes. No one who knows you really well takes you seriously anymore. Here's something I used to do to my mother. I would say even here that you did it. I know because he knows it's true. Here's something I would say. It's something I used to say to my mother that she really didn't like. I'd be like, you know what we have I have all these brothers and sisters and I really love them.
I love Luc and I love I love Kate and I love Jane. And I really love Justin. I just I just I want to love Neil, but I just don't feel anything for him. I don't like this. I don't like this. You love your brother. You want to go like mom. Really. I wish I loved Neil. I just there's nothing there. There's just nothing there. I try to I don't like this. I don't like you pulling your both stuff like I, I and you know, obviously I love my brother Neil, but I like this thing that like Mom, I'm trying I've tried for many years.
He's my oldest brother. But when I try and access love, there's nothing. There's just nothing. There's no emotion. And I have to I don't like this now. Maybe you should just go upstairs and think about what you said. What's wrong with you? I don't know. You are a bold step. Yeah. And it seems like your mom is one of your favorite targets for this. Like you like to get her riled up. She was so good at being the straight woman, you know.
Yes. Because you're talking about now what's going on. Here, I really want her to know the actual meaning of that source. It is. I know. I know. I want her to know I won't hurt you. She won't admit it. That's the thing about my family is nobody's going to admit anything no one has ever said in my family. You know what I thought about it. And you are right and I was wrong. It's not with you.
You don't do that either. You in pajama bottoms. Yes. Deflection. That's what that is. Matt, sorry. You look like a nineteen twenties prisoner. When I put on shoes and dressed up for Michelle Obama and I thought it was appropriate to dress down for Willie Nelson, I think he did the right thing. That makes sense. But yeah, that's my my my mom is never going to go. You know, I looked it up and yes.
Puttanesca sauce. Many believe the name does derive from the brothel's in the Spanish Quarter. She's never going to say that. She's just going to stick with your I don't like it and your being able to dump. That's what she's going to stick with. I like bold stuff. I never want you. I went over. She was going to have we're having a big party at our house and this is still when I'm an adult. But I come by to visit my parents and a bunch of people are coming over in a few hours.
I think one guest showed up early and was like wearing jeans or something. My mom, who hasn't even dressed yet, saw them in the yard and was like, they're wearing jeans. I can't believe they were in jeans. And my mother turned to me and she's wearing a robe and the robe is kind of stiff, like it's over starched. So it looks like she's her hair is a mess. She's wearing a robe and she's got this her robe tied and it looks like a propeller on a nineteen fifteen airplane and it's giant and her hair is all over the place.
And she said just to know what kind of family we are and doesn't she know what we stand for. And then we O'Briens are made of stuff. And I look at her, I said, Mom, you look like Boxcar Willie. I don't like that. I don't like that even Louis. And I said, well, before you go criticize his jeans, you should go upstairs and take the propeller off. How early did that guy come? I don't know.
He wasn't there. That is just mind. I'm just telling you and these are stories from my past I like to tell ya. And every now and then about the old days or days in Brookline, Massachusetts, it really does give good insight into the person that you are and you've become. I think I have my good qualities. What are they? Not sure I would. Maybe another podcast. Hey, if you want to hear my good qualities, we're going to release them.
Episode twenty eight This year, I'm going to release my good qualities. Oh, you can't even come up with in some of these ways to get people talking. This is not me not being able to come up with my good qualities. This is me using it as a promotional tool. Oh, OK. And for that one time. Yeah. Tune in episode twenty eight Conan's good qualities. It'll be twenty seconds. It'll be hey if we can get to twenty seconds if I'm going to speak very slowly I always get rid of loose change.
That's one of them. That's the way to make the last twenty seconds. You always get ready to go.
Conan O'Brien needs a friend with Sunim Obsession and Conan O'Brien as himself produced by me, McCallie executive produced by Adam Sex, Joanna Solotaroff and Jeff Ross at Team Coco and Colin Anderson and Chris Bannon at Airwolf. Theme song by The White Stripes. Incidental Music by Jimmy Iovine. Our supervising producer is Aaron Belayer and our associate talent producer is Jennifer Samples. The show is engineered by Wilbekin. You can rate and review this show on Apple podcast and you might find your review featured on a future episode.
Got a question for Conan. Call the Team Coco hotline at three, two, three, four, five, one, two, eight, two, one and leave a message in two could be featured on a future episode. And if you haven't already, please subscribe to Conan O'Brien needs a friend on Apple podcasts, stitcher or wherever find podcasts are downloaded. This has been 18 cocoa production in association with Noel.