Gershwin Prize

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Willie Nelson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize

Watch an all-star tribute to singer and songwriter Willie Nelson, 2015 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song features performances by Nelson, as well as Edie Brickell, Leon Bridges, Rosanne Cash, Ana Gabriel, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Raul Malo of The Mavericks, Neil Young, Promise of the Real, Buckwheat Zydeco and past Gershwin Prize honoree Paul Simon.

AIRED: January 15, 2016 | 1:25:47
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TRANSCRIPT

[banjo music]

announcer: From Washington, D.C.,

the Library of Congress,

our nation's oldest federal cultural institution,

presents the 2015 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,

with an all-star salute to this year's honoree,

Willie Nelson.

Performances by...

And...

With special appearance by Michael Feinstein.

With your host, Don Johnson.

Now please welcome

Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Neil Young,

joined by Promise of the Real.

- ♪ Well, you can't go home if you're going by the mill ♪

♪ 'Cause the bridge washed out at the bottom of the hill ♪

♪ The big creek's up and the little creek's level ♪

♪ Plow my corn with a double shovel ♪

all: ♪ Stay all night, stay a little longer ♪

♪ Dance all night, dance a little longer ♪

♪ Pull off your coat, throw it in the corner ♪

♪ Don't see why you can't stay a little longer ♪

- ♪ Sittin' in the window, singin' to my love ♪

♪ Slop bucket fell from the window above ♪

♪ Mule and the grasshopper eatin' ice cream ♪

♪ Mule got sick, so they laid him on the beam ♪

all: ♪ Stay all night, stay a little longer ♪

♪ Dance all night, dance a little longer ♪

♪ Pull off your coat, throw it in the corner ♪

♪ Don't see why you can't stay a little longer ♪

[guitar solo]

- ♪ You might see my blue-eyed Sally ♪

♪ She lives way down on Shinbone Alley ♪

♪ Number on the gate is the number on the door ♪

♪ Right next to the grocery store ♪

all: ♪ Stay all night, stay a little longer ♪

♪ Dance all night, dance a little longer ♪

♪ Pull off your coat, throw it in the corner ♪

♪ Don't see why you don't stay a little longer ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ Stay all night, stay a little longer ♪

♪ Dance all night, dance a little longer ♪

♪ Pull off your coat, throw it in the corner ♪

♪ Don't see why you can't stay a little longer ♪

♪ I don't see why you can't stay a little longer ♪

[cheers and applause]

announcer: Please welcome our host for this evening,

Don Johnson.

[band plays blues music]

- Good evening.

all: Good evening!

- And welcome to the 2015 Library of Congress

Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Tonight, we celebrate the remarkable American songbook

of Willie Nelson.

[cheers and applause]

We also celebrate the living cultural legacy

of the Library of Congress as it continues its role

as a beacon of American cultural life, history, and art.

A special welcome to the many members of Congress

and other dignitaries who have joined us this evening.

[applause]

Leave it to Willie-- only he can bring together

Republicans and Democrats for something important.

[applause]

You may have to stay here in Washington, Willie.

I am so honored to be here tonight.

Willie and I have been friends for,

well, longer than either one of us cares to talk about.

[laughter]

Every time Willie's bus rolls into town,

you know you're in for a great show, a big party,

and tonight's no different,

except this time, a whole gang of Willie's good buddies

will be here serenading him.

So, Willie, sit back, relax,

and enjoy the show.

God knows you've earned it.

[applause]

All right, now let's get back to the reason we're all here,

the indelible music of a uniquely American artist.

At the dawn of the '60s, on a lonely Houston highway,

within the span of one week,

Willie wrote some of his greatest songs,

including this one.

Here to perform Willie Nelson's classic,

"Funny How Time Slips Away,"

please welcome Leon Bridges.

[cheers and applause]

- ♪ Well, hello there

♪ My, it's been a long, long time ♪

♪ How am I doing

♪ I guess that I'm doing fine

♪ It's been so long now

♪ And it seems now

♪ It was only yesterday

♪ Gee, ain't it funny

♪ How time slips away

♪ How's your new love

♪ I hope that he's doing fine

all: ♪ Whoo-ooh-ooh-ooh, whoo-ooh-ooh-ooh ♪

- ♪ I heard you told him

♪ That you'll love him

♪ Till the end of time

all: ♪ Whoo-ooh-ooh-ooh, whoo-ooh-ooh-ooh ♪

- ♪ Well, that's the same thing ♪

♪ That you told me

♪ It feels like only yesterday

♪ Gee, ain't it funny how

all: ♪ Time slips away

♪ Whoo-ooh-ooh-ooh

- ♪ Won't you play that thing now ♪

[harmonica solo]

♪ I got to go now

♪ I guess I'll see you around

all: ♪ Whoo-ooh-ooh

- ♪ Don't know when though

♪ Never know when I'll be back in town ♪

all: ♪ Whoo-ooh-ooh

- ♪ But remember

♪ What I tell you

♪ In time

♪ You're gonna pay

♪ And it's surprising

all: ♪ How time slips away

♪ Whoo-ooh-ooh-ooh

[cheers and applause]

- For over a half a century, the world has embraced

this next song as an anthem of lost love.

Willie wrote it, Patsy Cline recorded it,

and here to perform the American classic, "Crazy,"

please welcome Grammy award-winning artist,

Raul Malo.

[cheers and applause]

- ♪ Crazy

♪ I'm crazy for feeling

♪ So lonely

♪ I'm crazy

♪ Crazy for feeling

♪ So blue

♪ I knew

♪ You'd love me

♪ As long as you wanted

♪ Then someday

♪ You'd leave me

♪ For somebody new

♪ Worry

♪ Why do I let myself worry

all: ♪ Ah-ah-ah

- ♪ Wondering

♪ What in the world

♪ Did I do

♪ Crazy all: ♪ Whoo-ooh

- ♪ For thinking that my love

♪ Could hold you

♪ And I'm crazy for trying

♪ And crazy for crying

♪ And I'm crazy

♪ For loving you

♪ Crazy all: ♪ Ooh-ooh

- ♪ For thinking that my love

♪ Could hold you

♪ And I'm crazy for trying

♪ And crazy for crying

♪ And I'm crazy

♪ For loving

♪ You

[cheers and applause]

- Uh, when did you first meet Willie?

- [laughs] October 27, 1969.

Or I guess maybe nine months earlier than that,

there was a twinkle in his eye.

The "Donny & Marie" show was huge

and I guess I was probably five or six.

We got Donny and Marie wigs,

and I made my sister be Donny because I wanted

the long, flowing Marie wig.

And we would get up on just the gospel portion

of my dad's show and sing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken,"

"Uncloudy Day," and "Amazing Grace."

So really, that's when we first started getting out

and singing with him.

And we would come out, and as we got older,

we lost the wigs-- the Donny and Marie wigs,

and we would still come out 'cause we were out on the road,

you know, during the summers especially.

["I'll Fly Away" by Willie Nelson]

- ♪ Just a few more weary days and then... ♪

Let me hear you sing.

- I was dressing in drag since I was four.

[laughter]

- How'd that go for you? - Well, I didn't know it.

I didn't know it was drag, so it was fun.

I'd do it again.

I didn't look like Donny Osmond, really.

- You didn't look like Donny, no.

You looked like a boy-girl in a Dorothy Hamill wig.

- Right. - And then, yeah, I'd sing,

♪ I'm a little bit country

- ♪ Little bit... both: ♪ Rock and roll

[laughter]

- 'Cause we toured with him up until we went to school,

and then as soon as we went to school, then we realized,

"Oh, not everybody's families do this.

What do you guys do?" You know?

- It's hard being in this business, out on the road.

For a lot of years now, we didn't get

to see each other a whole lot, and there was always

lots of people around but there was always that little--

you know, we have that connection

and that bonding thing.

He's a great person, a great entertainer

and songwriter, all of those things,

but he just is-- he's a great dad too.

- ♪ I never care for you

- I met him in Tucson, Arizona, on a film--

I was a make-up artist.

The producers were kind of older guys

and a little cranky and they--

they were thinking they wanted him to cut his hair

to play Doc Holiday.

So I thought, "Okay, I'll ask him,"

and I said,

"Mr. Nelson, the producers would like to know

"if you would be interested in cutting your hair

for this part," and he just looked up at me

with this impish look, and said, "Well, what do you think?"

And at that point, I didn't care, and I said,

"I think it's kind of ridiculous,"

and he said, "Let's tell 'em no."

And I went, "Him, I like."

And we just hung out,

and we've been together for 23 years since then.

We have two sons, Lukas and Micah.

They were both surprises.

Good ones.

Beautiful surprises.

[country blues music]

announcer: Please welcome the first recipient

of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,

Paul Simon, joined by special guest

Edie Brickell.

[cheers and applause]

- Thank you.

In the mid-'70s, Willie issued his

Declaration of Independence from the Nashville machine

by releasing the "Red Headed Stranger,"

an album that Edie first played for me.

- I sang every song when I was a kid.

Thank you, Willie.

- This is just one of the classic songs

from that album.

both: ♪ You told me once

♪ That you were mine

♪ Alone forever

♪ And I was yours

♪ Till the end of eternity

♪ But all those vows are broken now ♪

♪ And we will never

♪ Be the same

♪ Except in memory

♪ Remember me

♪ When the candle lights are gleaming ♪

♪ Remember me

♪ At the close of a long, long day ♪

♪ And it would be so sweet

♪ When all alone I'm dreaming

♪ Just to know

♪ You still remember me

[guitar solo]

[harmonica solo]

♪ So sweet

♪ When all alone

♪ I'm dreaming

♪ Just to know

♪ You still remember me

♪ A brighter face

♪ May take my place

♪ When we're apart, dear

♪ Another love

♪ With a heart more bold and free ♪

♪ But in the end

♪ Fair-weather friends

♪ May break your heart, dear

♪ But if they do

♪ Sweetheart, remember me

♪ Remember me

- ♪ When the candle lights are gleaming ♪

all: ♪ Gleaming

- ♪ Remember me

♪ At the close of a long, long day ♪

♪ And it would be so sweet - ♪ Be so sweet

both: ♪ When all alone I'm dreaming ♪

♪ Just to know

♪ You still remember me

♪ Just to know

♪ You still remember me

♪ Just to know

♪ You still remember

♪ Me

[cheers and applause]

- In 1983, Willie's daughter Lana

brought him a song written by Townes Van Zandt.

Willie loved it, and just like that,

his duet with Merle Haggard went to number one.

To perform one of Willie's most enduring songs,

"Pancho and Lefty,"

here is four-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter

Rosanne Cash.

[cheers and applause]

- Maestro.

♪ Living on the road, my friend ♪

♪ Was gonna keep you free and clean ♪

♪ Now you wear your skin like iron ♪

♪ Your breath's as hard as kerosene ♪

♪ Weren't your momma's only boy ♪

♪ But her favorite one it seems ♪

♪ She began to cry

♪ When you said good-bye

♪ And sank into your dreams

♪ Pancho was a bandit boy

♪ His horse as fast as polished steel ♪

♪ Wore his gun outside his pants ♪

♪ For all the honest world to feel ♪

♪ Pancho met his match, you know ♪

♪ On the deserts down in Mexico ♪

♪ Nobody heard his dying words

♪ But that's the way it goes

all: ♪ All the Federales say

♪ Could have had him any day

- ♪ They only let him slip away ♪

♪ Out of kindness, I suppose

♪ Lefty, he can't sing the blues ♪

♪ All night long like he used to ♪

♪ The dust that Pancho bit down south ♪

♪ Ended up in Lefty's mouth

♪ The day they laid poor Pancho low ♪

♪ Lefty split for Ohio

♪ Where he got the bread to go

♪ Ain't nobody knows

all: ♪ All the Federales say

♪ They could have had him any day ♪

- ♪ They only let him slip away ♪

♪ Out of kindness, I suppose

♪ Poets tell how Pancho fell

♪ Lefty's living in a cheap hotel ♪

♪ The desert's quiet and Cleveland's cold ♪

♪ And so the story ends, we're told ♪

♪ Pancho needs your prayers, it's true ♪

♪ But save a few for Lefty too

♪ He only did what he had to do ♪

♪ And now he's growing old

all: ♪ All the Federales say

♪ Could have had him any day

- ♪ They only let him slip away ♪

♪ Out of kindness, I suppose

all: ♪ A few gray Federales say ♪

♪ Could have had him any day

- ♪ They only let him go so long ♪

♪ Out of kindness, I suppose

[cheers and applause]

- I was always around music.

I can't remember any time when I wasn't...

hearing music or trying to play music

or trying to write music,

and it was just the language that I grew up with.

And I found out through the years

that it's a universal language

and it's the same music that affected me

back in my early days in Abbott, Texas.

- America is an idea,

and we're one of the few countries on Earth

that was built around an idea.

I think there used to be a rich emotional history

in this country.

Back in the old days

when the men were men and the emus were nervous,

the singing cowboy was a-- was a very important element

in the culture.

Now that era, of course, is long gone.

Willie grew up with the singing cowboy,

and he said that in those days,

the cowboys all sang and their horses were smart.

Today, that's not the case,

but the--the cowboy way is still important--

to know how to ride, shoot straight, and tell the truth.

And of those three,

telling the truth is by far the most important thing,

and that was a, uh, code of the cowboy.

I think Willie's a magic messenger,

and he's one of the few that not only has sustained

a long time, but appeals across the spectrum

to young and old, and he's able to--

kind of to wander through the raw poetry of time.

[playing blues music]

- Willie was playing down on Sunset,

and at the end of it, Annie came up and said,

"Come on out to the bus."

I went through a haze of smoke,

and I see Willie standing there.

He says, "Come on over here! Sit down!"

- He's been in that chair

for the last ten years, it seems like.

- Pretty much.

Thornton: Did you guys ever notice how Willie,

like, everything he says to you,

there's a song title there almost?

- So instantly quotable.

It's like the Immortal Bard.

I mean, you can make it through a whole day

without ever saying an original thought,

just using kind of stuff that Willie's already come up with.

- Little Willie-isms.

- Willie-isms. - Yeah.

[laughter]

- Willie Nelson's always been

absolutely unique as an artist.

I wouldn't call him country or soul

or exclusively anything, you know?

Pop? He had--he's had some

of the biggest popular-selling records

that have ever come out of country music.

But, uh...

he's one of a kind.

- ♪ You were always on

♪ My mind

[cheers and applause]

- Among the many people paying tribute tonight to Willie

is one of his longtime fans,

former President Jimmy Carter.

[cheers and applause]

Two Southern farm boys

who each made a pretty good life for themselves

and became lifelong friends.

In his letter, President Carter writes,

"Although we regret we couldn't be with you today,

"Rosalynn joins me in congratulating you

"on receiving the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize,

"a prestigious and well-deserved award.

"Your music has enriched the lives

"of people far and wide for decades,

"and it is only fitting that your life's work

"be honored in this way.

"Your friendship has been important to us

"for over 30 years,

"and we were proud to host you at the White House

"and in Plains.

"We also loved having you in Oslo

"for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2002.

"Your music has become the soundtrack of our lives,

"and we are pleased to see

"your tremendous talent recognized today.

"Please know you have our warm best wishes

"on this special occasion,

"and we hope to see you soon.

Sincerely, Jimmy Carter."

[applause]

announcer: Please welcome

nine-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter

Jamey Johnson.

[applause]

- ♪ Georgia

♪ Georgia

♪ The whole day through

♪ Just an old sweet song

♪ Keeps Georgia on my mind

♪ Georgia

♪ Georgia

♪ A song of you

♪ Comes as free and clear

♪ As moonlight

♪ Through the pines

♪ Other arms

♪ Reach out to me

♪ Other eyes

♪ Smile tenderly

♪ Still in peaceful dreams

♪ I see

♪ The road leads back to you

♪ Georgia

♪ Georgia

♪ No peace I find

♪ Just an old sweet song

♪ That keeps Georgia on my mind ♪

[harmonica solo]

♪ Georgia

♪ Georgia

♪ No peace I find

♪ Just an old sweet song

♪ That keeps Georgia on my mind ♪

all: ♪ Georgia on my mind

- ♪ It's just an old sweet song ♪

♪ That keeps Georgia on my mind ♪

all: ♪ Georgia on my mind

- ♪ On my mind

all: ♪ Georgia on my mind

- ♪ On my mind

all: ♪ Georgia on my mind

- ♪ On my mind

all: ♪ Georgia on my mind

♪ Georgia on my mind

♪ Georgia on my mind

[cheers and applause]

["Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin]

announcer: Please welcome five-time Grammy nominee

and a member of the Library of Congress

National Recording Preservation Board,

Michael Feinstein.

- Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

In 1978, Willie recorded an album

called "Stardust," that--

[applause]

That contained, among others,

this Gershwin standard.

♪ There's a somebody I'm longing to see ♪

♪ I hope that she turns out to be ♪

♪ Someone to watch over me

That album, to date,

has sold over 5 million copies,

so that ain't hay.

[applause]

In 1985, the United States Congress

posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal

to one of America's most beloved songwriting teams,

George and Ira Gershwin, for their,

"Outstanding and invaluable contributions

to American music, theater, and culture."

In commemoration of George and Ira Gershwin,

the Library of Congress named its prize for popular song,

which is the nation's highest honor for popular song,

after these two extraordinary and prolific recording artists.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me

in honoring the enduring musical legacy

of George and Ira Gershwin and the continuing legacy

of this year's Gershwin Prize honoree,

Willie Nelson.

[cheers and applause]

["Good Hearted Woman" by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings]

- ♪ Well, a long time forgotten ♪

♪ Her dreams have just fell by the way ♪

♪ And the good life he promised ♪

♪ Ain't what she's living today ♪

Over the years, hundreds of generous and talented artists

have donated their performances to Farm Aid.

- ♪ Oh, but ain't that America

♪ For you and me

♪ Ain't that America

♪ We're something to see

- ♪ Just follow your arrow wherever it points ♪

♪ Yeah, follow your arrow

♪ Wherever it points, yeah

- ♪ The space between

♪ The tears we cry

♪ Is the laughter, keeps us coming back for more ♪

♪ The space between

♪ All the wicked lies we tell

♪ And hope to keep safe from the pain ♪

- It's become more than just a concert.

Now it is a festival.

Just a spirit to it that people want to come from afar,

but also it turns out the locals to it,

and every place is different.

["On Top of The World" by Imagine Dragons]

- ♪ If you love somebody

♪ You better tell them while they're here ♪

♪ 'Cause they just may run away from you ♪

♪ You'll never know quite when

♪ Well, then again, it just depends on ♪

♪ How long of time is left for you ♪

♪ You, you, you

- ♪ I wandered so aimless

♪ Life filled with sin

♪ I would not let my dear saviour in ♪

♪ Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night ♪

all: ♪ Praise the Lord, I saw the light ♪

♪ I saw the light, I saw the light ♪

♪ No more darkness, no more night ♪

♪ Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight ♪

♪ Praise the Lord, I saw the light ♪

Play it, Mickey.

[guitar solo]

[cheers and applause]

announcer: Ladies and gentlemen,

please welcome 26-time Grammy-winning

singer-songwriter Alison Krauss.

[cheers and applause]

- ♪ If you had not have fallen

♪ Then I would not have found you ♪

♪ Angel flying too close

♪ To the ground

♪ And I patched up your broken wing ♪

♪ And hung around for a while

♪ Trying to keep your spirits up ♪

♪ And your fever down

♪ I knew someday

♪ That you would fly away

♪ For love's the greatest healer ♪

♪ To be found

♪ So leave me

♪ If you need to

♪ I will still remember

♪ Angel flying too close

♪ To the ground

[pedal steel guitar solo]

♪ Fly on

♪ Fly on

♪ Past the speed of sound

♪ I'd rather see you up

♪ Than to see you down

♪ So leave me

♪ If you need to

♪ I will still remember

♪ Angel flying too close

♪ To the ground

♪ So leave me

♪ If you need to

♪ I will still remember

♪ Angel flying too close

♪ To the ground

[cheers and applause]

For this next song, I'm pleased to be joined

by Jamey Johnson.

[cheers and applause]

- One of the great mutual admiration societies

in musical history

was the one between Willie and Ray Charles.

[applause]

I'm pretty proud to be here with Alison Krauss tonight

to do our version of Willie and Ray's

"Seven Spanish Angels."

[cheers and applause]

♪ He looked down into her brown eyes ♪

♪ Said, say a prayer for me

♪ She threw her arms around him ♪

♪ Whispered, God will keep us free ♪

♪ They could hear the riders coming ♪

♪ He said, this is my last fight ♪

♪ If they take me back to Texas ♪

♪ They won't take me back alive ♪

♪ There were seven Spanish angels ♪

♪ At the altar of the sun

♪ They were praying for the lovers ♪

♪ In the valley of the gun

♪ When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared ♪

♪ There was thunder from the throne ♪

♪ And seven Spanish angels

♪ Took another angel home

- ♪ She reached down and picked the gun up ♪

♪ That lay smoking in his hand

♪ She said, Father, please forgive me ♪

♪ I can't make it without my man ♪

♪ And she knew the gun was empty ♪

♪ And she knew she couldn't win ♪

♪ But her final prayer was answered ♪

♪ When the rifles fired again

♪ There were seven Spanish angels ♪

♪ At the altar of the sun

♪ They were praying for the lovers ♪

♪ In the valley of the gun

♪ When the battle stopped

♪ And the smoke cleared

♪ There was thunder from the throne ♪

♪ And seven Spanish angels

♪ Took another angel home

both: ♪ There were seven Spanish angels ♪

♪ At the altar of the sun

♪ They were praying for the lovers ♪

♪ In the valley of the gun

♪ When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared ♪

♪ There was thunder from the throne ♪

all: ♪ And seven Spanish angels ♪

♪ Took another angel home

both: ♪ When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared ♪

♪ There was thunder from the throne ♪

all: ♪ And seven Spanish angels ♪

♪ Took another angel home

♪ Home

[cheers and applause]

- Whoo!

How 'bout that?

[cheers and applause continue]

Y'all, I think we got to put our hands together

For Don Was and the house band,

and those beautiful sisters back there!

Ow!

[cheers and applause]

It was the mid-'60s,

and Willie was still paying his Nashville dues

when he wrote what has become

one of his most beloved songs.

The song is called, "I Never Cared For You,"

performed tonight by four-time Grammy nominee

and one of the most acclaimed singers

in the history of Mexican popular music,

Ana Gabriel.

- ♪ El sol se ha congelado

♪ Y no calienta ya

♪ Y el cielo nunca fue azul

♪ Una lluvia de estrellas

♪ Se esfumó al caer

♪ Y yo jamás

♪ Cuidé de ti

♪ Sé bien que tú jamás

♪ Podrás creer en mí

♪ Quieres la verdad

♪ Tu corazón, ya sabe

♪ Que yo te mentí

♪ No puedo fingir

♪ Ahora solo espero

♪ Que tu veas en mí

♪ Mi sinceridad

♪ Por eso decedí expresar

♪ Lo que sentí

♪ Y me perdonarás

♪ El sol se ha congelado

♪ Y no calienta ya

♪ Y el cielo nunca fue azul

♪ Una lluvia de estrellas

♪ Se esfumó al caer

♪ Y yo jamás

♪ Cuidé de ti

[shouts in Spanish]

[vocalizing]

Willie Nelson, thank you for this opportunity.

Thank you.

♪ El sol se ha congelado

♪ Y no calienta ya

♪ Y el cielo nunca fue azul

♪ Una lluvia de estrellas

♪ Se esfumó al caer

♪ Y yo jamás

♪ Cuidé de ti

♪ Y yo jamás

♪ Cuidé de ti

♪ Y yo jamás

Willie!

♪ Cuidé

♪ De ti

Hey!

[cheers and applause]

- Celebrating 40 years.

[blues rock music]

- Listen, tonight we celebrate "Austin City Limits'"

40th Anniversary by honoring the man that started it all.

Along with his sidekick, Trigger, will you please welcome

someone I can call a friend,

the one and only, Mr. Willie Nelson.

- ♪ Whiskey river, take my mind ♪

♪ Don't let her memory torture me ♪

- ♪ And I'm crazy

♪ For thinking that my love

♪ Could hold you

- ♪ Ain't it funny

both: ♪ How time slips away

all: ♪ On the road again

♪ Like a band of gypsies, we go down the highway ♪

♪ We're the best of friends

♪ Insisting that the world keep turnin' our way ♪

♪ And our way is on the road again ♪

announcer: Once again, please welcome Neil Young

joined by Promise of the Real.

- ♪ Whiskey river, take my mind ♪

♪ Don't let her memory torture me ♪

♪ Whiskey river, don't run dry

♪ You're all I got, take care of me ♪

all: ♪ Whiskey river, take my mind ♪

♪ Don't let her memory torture me ♪

♪ Whiskey river, don't run dry

♪ You're all I got, don't stay dry ♪

- ♪ I'm drowning in a whiskey river ♪

♪ Bathing my memory's mind

♪ In the wetness of its soul

♪ Feeling the amber current

♪ Flowin' from my mind

♪ And warmed an empty heart you left so cold ♪

all: ♪ Whiskey river, take my mind ♪

♪ Don't let her memory torture me ♪

♪ Whiskey river, don't run dry

♪ You're all I got, take care of me ♪

[guitar solo]

- ♪ I'm drowning in a whiskey river ♪

♪ Bathing my memory's mind

♪ In the wetness of its soul

♪ Feeling the amber current

♪ Flowin' from my mind

♪ And warmed an empty heart

♪ You left so cold

all: ♪ Whiskey river, take my mind ♪

♪ Don't let her memory torture me ♪

♪ Whiskey river, don't run dry

♪ You're all I got, take care of me ♪

♪ Whiskey river, take my mind

♪ Don't let her memory torture me ♪

♪ Whiskey river, don't run dry

♪ You're all I got, take care of me ♪

[cheers and applause]

announcer: Once again, please welcome Paul Simon,

joined by Buckwheat Zydeco.

[cheers and applause]

- ♪ If you need some advice in being lonely ♪

♪ If you need a little help in feeling blue ♪

♪ If you need some advice on how to cry all night ♪

♪ Come to me

♪ I'm the man with the blues

♪ I'm the man with 100,000 heartaches ♪

♪ And I've got most any color of the blues ♪

♪ So if you need a little shove ♪

♪ About fouling up in love

♪ Come to me

♪ I'm the man with the blues

Yeah, Buckwheat!

[accordion solo]

[pedal steel guitar solo]

♪ If you need some advice

♪ In being lonely

♪ And if you need a little help ♪

♪ In feeling blue

♪ If you need some advice

♪ On how to cry all night

♪ Come to me

♪ I'm the man with the blues

♪ I'm a man with 100,000 teardrops ♪

♪ And I've got a good selection ♪

♪ Old and new

♪ So if you need a little shove ♪

♪ About how to fall in love

♪ Come to me

♪ I'm the man with the blues

♪ Come to me

♪ I'm the man with the blues

♪ Come to me

♪ I'm the man with the blues

Yeah!

[cheers and applause]

- Ray Charles said it best.

"Willie has the sincerity, the soul,

"the wit, and the wisdom.

"When I hear Willie,

I hear the voice of America."

Born in small-town rural Texas during the Great Depression

in the spring of 1933,

Willie Nelson was raised by loving grandparents

and nurtured by the western swing of Bob Wills

and the honky-tonk of Ernest Tubb.

He picked cotton, he pulled corn,

and even as a boy, he wrote songs--

songs of loneliness, songs of faith,

songs of despair, and songs of hope.

As a young man, he scraped and scrambled his way across

the country, playing with whatever band would have him.

He even found work as a disc jockey

on a station in the far northwest.

In the '60s, our hillbilly hero

drove his broken-down Buick to Nashville,

where his songs, enduring classics like

"Hello Walls," "Crazy," "Night Life,"

and "Funny How Time Slips Away" were covered by superstars,

yet Willie himself fell short of becoming a superstar.

His quirky style didn't conform to the Nashville norm.

Well, all that changed in the '70s

when Willie moved to Austin

and bridged the gap between hillbillies and hippies,

rednecks and radicals.

His music and his irrepressibly generous spirit

embodied all opposing factions.

From then till now,

he has maintained a Zen-like presence

as the peace-loving music man for all generations and genres.

His surprising "Stardust" album in 1978, for example,

helped revive interest in the great American songbook,

and stayed on the pop charts for no less than ten years.

In the mid-'80s, his impassioned concern

for the marginalized and struggling small farmer

moved him to help establish Farm Aid.

Three decades later,

and with nearly $50 million raised for the great cause,

Farm Aid is stronger than ever.

Now as he roars into his 80s,

Willie is stronger than ever.

He continues to live his life,

as he loves to say, on the road again,

playing over a hundred one-nighters a year.

This past year alone, he's cut three new albums--

a duet session with Merle Haggard,

a tribute to his mentor, Ray Price,

and in honor of this august occasion,

a recording of the songs of George and Ira Gershwin.

Willie Nelson has earned his heroic stature,

but in doing so--and this is the beautiful part--

he has sustained a spirit of deep humility

and common decency.

His songs, like his singing and his guitar playing,

reflect a simple honesty that warms the heart

even as it informs the mind.

With 11 Grammy awards, 68 studio albums,

and more than 40 million records sold in the U.S. alone,

and for his remarkable contribution to American music

and the cultural life of this nation,

the Library of Congress is honored to present

the 2015 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

to Willie Nelson.

[cheers and applause]

announcer: Ladies and gentlemen,

please welcome United States House of Representatives

Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee

on the Library of Congress, Gregg Harper,

United States House of Representatives

Chairman of the Committee on House Administration,

Candice S. Miller,

United States House of Representatives

Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer,

United States House of Representatives

Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi,

United States Senate Democratic Whip,

Richard J. Durbin,

United States House of Representatives

Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy,

and the acting Librarian of Congress, David Mao.

[applause]

- The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize

is the nation's highest honor for popular song.

For more than five decades,

Willie Nelson has inspired new generations of songwriters

with his melodies, harmonies, voice, and heart,

and tonight, we recognize this son of Texas

for matchless contributions to the musical legacy

for our nation and for the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

please welcome tonight's honoree

and the recipient of the Library of Congress

Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, Mr. Willie Nelson.

[cheers and applause]

- Thank you very much.

[cheers and applause continue]

Thank you very much.

What a wonderful evening.

Thank you so much.

And thank you for coming out,

and thank all the great artists who have come out

and really outdid themselves tonight playing fantastic music,

music that I remember, some of it.

[laughter]

No, it's all great music,

and the Gershwin Award is one of the greatest things

that's happened to me in my life, and, you know,

there's a lot of things happen in 82 years,

but this--this is one of the best, for sure,

and I really do appreciate it.

Thank all of you for doing it.

Thank all the artists. Thank you, folks.

Thank you.

[cheers and applause]

And a nice hand for Don Was and the great band.

[cheers and applause]

Fantastic. Thank you.

Here's a song I wrote a while back

called "Night Life."

- One, two, three.

- ♪ When the evening sun goes down ♪

♪ You're gonna find me hanging around ♪

♪ The night life

♪ Ain't no good life

♪ But it's my life

♪ Many people all just like me ♪

♪ Dreaming of old used-to-be's

♪ And the night life ain't no good life ♪

♪ But it's my life

♪ Listen to the blues they're playing ♪

♪ Listen to what the blues are saying ♪

♪ Mine is just another scene

♪ From the world of broken dreams ♪

♪ The night life ain't no good life ♪

♪ But it's my life

[guitar solo]

♪ Listen to the blues they're playing ♪

♪ Listen to what the blues are saying ♪

♪ Mine is just another scene

♪ From the world of broken dreams ♪

♪ The night life ain't no good life ♪

♪ But it's my life

♪ The night life it ain't no good life ♪

♪ But it's my life

[cheers and applause]

Thank you very much.

Just did a Gershwin album.

I just finished it.

It'll be out January 15th.

And one of the songs that we did,

I was lucky enough to get Cyndi Lauper to come out,

and we did a song called,

"Let's Call The Whole Thing Off."

Cyndi, where are you, darlin'?

[cheers and applause]

- I love you, Willie.

- ♪ You say either, I say aye-ther ♪

♪ You say neither, and I say nigh-ther ♪

♪ Either, aye-ther, neither, nigh-ther ♪

♪ Let's call the whole thing off ♪

- ♪ You like potato and I like po-tah-to ♪

♪ You like tomato and I like to-mah-to ♪

♪ Potato, po-tah-to, tomato, to-mah-to ♪

♪ Let's call the whole thing off ♪

both: ♪ But oh

♪ If we call the whole thing off ♪

♪ Then we must part

♪ And oh

♪ If we ever part

♪ That might break my heart

- ♪ So if you like pa-jah-mas - I do.

- ♪ And I like pajamas - I don't.

- ♪ I'll wear pa-jah-mas and give up pajamas ♪

- ♪ Oh, for we know, we need each other so ♪

both: ♪ We better call the calling off, off ♪

♪ Let's call the whole thing off ♪

[guitar solo]

- Come on.

I love you, Willie.

[harmonica solo]

- ♪ Well, you say laughter - Uh-huh.

- ♪ I say lahf-ter

- ♪ You say after and I say ahf-ter ♪

- ♪ Laughter, lahf-ter

- ♪ After, ahf-ter

both: ♪ Let's call the whole thing off ♪

- ♪ Now you like Havana and I like Ha-vahn-a ♪

- ♪ You eat bananas and I eat ba-nah-nas ♪

- ♪ Bananas both: ♪ Ba-nah-nas

- ♪ Havana both: ♪ Ha-vahn-a

♪ Let's call the whole thing off ♪

♪ But oh

♪ If we call the whole thing off ♪

♪ Then we must part

♪ And oh

♪ If we ever part

♪ That might break my heart

- ♪ So if you go for oysters, then I'll go for err-sters ♪

- ♪ I'll order err-sters and cancel the oysters ♪

both: ♪ For we know we need each other so ♪

♪ We better call the calling off, off ♪

♪ Let's call the whole thing off ♪

[cheers and applause]

- Thank you, Cyndi Lauper!

[cheers and applause continues]

I'm very happy to have

a couple of sons of mine out here

helping us play music tonight.

Could we get Lukas and Micah out here to help us?

There's Luke.

[applause]

I think this is, uh,

one of the most appropriate songs

that we could do at this period...

in America.

Many years ago, I recorded this song,

and I felt like this might be a good time

to kind of try to bring it back.

It's called "Living in the Promiseland."

[cheers and applause]

♪ Give us your tired and weak

♪ And we will make them strong

♪ Bring us your foreign songs

♪ And we will sing along

[applause]

♪ Leave us your broken dreams

♪ We'll give them time to mend

♪ There's still a lot of love

all: ♪ Living in the Promiseland

♪ Living in the Promiseland

♪ Our dreams are made of steel

♪ The prayer of every man

♪ Is to know how freedom feels

♪ There is a winding road

♪ Across the shifting sand

♪ And room for everyone

♪ Living in the Promiseland

- ♪ So they came from a distant isle ♪

♪ Nameless woman, faithless child ♪

♪ Like a bad dream

♪ Till there was no room at all ♪

♪ No place to run

♪ No place to fall

- ♪ Give us our daily bread

♪ We have no shoes to wear

♪ No place to call our home

♪ Only this cross to bear

♪ We are the multitudes

♪ Lend us a helping hand

both: ♪ Is there no love anymore

all: ♪ Living in the Promiseland

[guitar solo]

all: ♪ Living in the Promiseland

♪ Our dreams are made of steel - ♪ Oh yeah

all: ♪ The prayer of every man

♪ Is to know how freedom feels

♪ There is a winding road

♪ Across the shifting sand

♪ And room for everyone

♪ Living in the Promiseland

- ♪ And room for everyone

♪ Living in the Promiseland

[cheers and applause]

Thank you!

Thank you very much.

This next song will be our finale song.

Y'all feel free to sing along with us on this one

if you're--if you want to.

♪ On the road again

♪ Just can't wait to get on the road again ♪

♪ The life I love is making music with my friends ♪

♪ And I can't wait to get on the road again ♪

♪ On the road again

♪ Going places that I've never been ♪

♪ Seeing things that I may never see again ♪

♪ I can't wait to get on the road ♪

Everybody sing!

all: ♪ On the road again

♪ Like a band of gypsies, we go down the highway ♪

♪ We're the best of friends

♪ Insisting that the world keep turning our way ♪

♪ And our way

♪ Is on the road again

- ♪ I just can't wait to get on the road again ♪

both: ♪ The life I love is making music with my friends ♪

all: ♪ I can't wait to get on the road again ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ On the road again

♪ Like a band of gypsies, we go down the highway ♪

♪ We're the best of friends

♪ Insisting that the world keep turning our way ♪

♪ And our way

♪ Is on the road again

♪ I just can't wait to get on the road again ♪

♪ The life I love is making music with my friends ♪

♪ And I can't wait to get on the road again ♪

- Big finish!

all: ♪ And I can't wait to get on the road again ♪

[cheers and applause]

- Good job, brother.

I love you.

- ♪ And I can't wait to get on the road again ♪

♪ I can't wait to get on the road ♪

On Masterpiece...

Did you drink at luncheon?

No, I did not.

One wrong move and... snap.

I don't suppose you'd like a drink with me?

All right, why not?

I'm surprised at you, Mrs. Hughes!

This is not the kind of behavior I would look for from you.

Mr. Spratt seems very preoccupied at the moment.

BAXTER: We've come to dress the bride.

There's a sentence I never thought I'd hear.

"Downton Abbey," on Masterpiece.

Sunday, 9:00, 8:00 Central, only on PBS.

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