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Willie Nelson Pays Tribute to Frank Sinatra

The country music legend puts his own spin on Ol' Blue Eyes' songs on his latest album

Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson and a well-behaved Trigger (photo: David McClister)

The genesis of My Way, Willie Nelson’s terrific new 11-track salute to Frank Sinatra, can be traced to Las Vegas circa 1978 when, so the story goes, impresario Steve Wynn introduced Sinatra to Stardust, Nelson’s landmark collection of standards. Wynn told Nelson and, according to Nelson’s longtime Nashville producer Buddy Cannon, “that’s how the connection began.”

Nelson and Sinatra didn’t actually meet until 1984, sharing the bill at Sin City’s Golden Nugget. Remarkably, Sinatra was the opening act. “I thought, ‘That ain’t right,’” says Nelson, “but he was a great guy who didn’t mind opening or closing.” That same year, they united for a pair of TV spots supporting the NASA-linked Space Foundation. In one, a tuxedoed Sinatra playfully derides Nelson’s comparative informality. Pointing to his bandana, Sinatra sneers, “What do you call that thing there?” Replies Nelson, “I call it ‘my way,’ Francis.’” A close friendship ensued. “I put it in one of my books that he was my favorite singer,” Nelson says, “and then I read somewhere that he said I was his favorite singer. That was the greatest [compliment] I could’ve gotten.”

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