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On Willie Nelson's tour bus, Stephen Colbert asks which celebrities most need a hit

Willie Nelson, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Stephen Colbert took Wednesday’s Late Show on the road. Well, on the street, anyway, as the host hopped up from his desk and interviewed guest Willie Nelson on Nelson’s famously cosy tour bus parked out on 53rd Street outside the Ed Sullivan Theater. There to promote his latest album, My Way (a collection of Sinatra covers, his 68th record or so), the 85-year-old country music legend welcomed Colbert to his traveling home with a hug and, one gathers, a contact high. After deadpanning, “Obviously, I have to start off by letting you know I’m not a cop,” Colbert complimented the scent of Willie’s “air freshener,” asking if that was lavender he smelled. Willie said, sure, why not, and promised to name the strain (of air freshener) The Colbert Lavender, which seems like a career-highlight for anybody.

Asking Nelson about certain loudmouthed Texans supposedly planning a boycott of his music because of the singer’s support for Texas senate candidate (and opposite of Ted Cruz in every conceivable way) Beto O’Rourke, Willie was as genially unconcerned as one would imagine. “That’s their prerogative,” Nelson tod Colbert, adding, “I might not like their music either, so...” Colbert did, however, show the widely-shared photo of Willie wearing a Beto T-shirt and flipping off the camera Johnny Cash-style, suggesting that the longtime activist and musician truly doesn’t give a damn what fans of a right-wing jackass like Cruz think about him stumping for the progressive O’Rourke.


One of Nelson’s main political causes has always been the legalization of marijuana, naturally, and Colbert came prepared with a stack of celebrity pictures, asking Willie which famous folks he’d most like to get high with. Snoop was a no-brainer, Pope Francis got a “heck yeah,” Meryl Streep was an “of course,” and, after politely asking who Yo-Yo Ma was, Willie enthused, “Cool, I’d love to burn one with Yo-Yo.” Noting that he’d supported political candidates over the years like Dennis Kucinich, Ross Perot, and country star turned senate candidate Tex Ritter (“So you always back the winners,” joked Colbert), Nelson responded to photos of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump by saying that some of his signature Willie’s Reserve might improve the world political situation. But, in response to a picture of President Obama, Nelson suggested admiringly, “I think he may already have been there a time or two.”  

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.