Update 4/29/20: Nathaniel Rateliff has shared the official music video for “Willie’s Birthday Song”, shot in quarantine, in honor of Willie Nelson’s birthday today. Watch the new music video and read about the track below:
Nathaniel Rateliff & Friends – “Willie’s Birthday Song” [Official Video]
[Video: Nathaniel Rateliff]
Nathaniel Rateliff enlisted a star-studded crew of musicians for a new single titled “Willie’s Birthday Song”, which celebrates the country icon’s upcoming 87th birthday this April 29th. The single originally debuted on Monday, April 20th as part of Willie’s 4/20 livestream, Come & Toke It.
The latest installment in Rateliff’s project, The Marigold Singles, sees the singer-songwriter team up with Willie’s older sister, Bobbie Nelson, and his sons, Lukas and Micah Nelson, as well as Nikki Lane, Mickey Raphael, Courtney Marie Andrews, members of his band, The Night Sweats, and more for the celebratory tune, which they recorded while following social distancing guidelines. In December 2019, the first Marigold single series debuted featuring Rateliff and the late John Prine. The two recorded Prine’s “Sam Stone” for the A-side, while Rateliff and Andrews covered Prine’s “Summer’s End” on the B-side.
The Marigold Singles is an ongoing series to raise money for The Marigold Project, Rateliff’s foundation supporting community and nonprofit organizations working for economic and social justice. Though Rateliff released the single digitally due to delays in vinyl production, “Willie’s Birthday Song” will appear as a B-side on a limited edition 7″ this summer. The A-side will feature a duet by Rateliff and Willie. Proceeds from this installment will support StrongHearts Native Helpline and Farm Aid, which recently held a virtual benefit concert that raised over $500,000 for family farmers and ranchers across the country.
Farm Aid’s executive director Carolyn Mugar said in a press release, “Farm Aid is honored to be a beneficiary of this song to celebrate Farm Aid’s founder, Willie Nelson. We’re grateful that Nathaniel Rateliff and his foundation, The Marigold Project, are part of the Farm Aid family. The work they do to support so many communities and advance racial and social justice is critical, especially in these times.”
The song starts with a moderate tempo, while acoustic guitar and drums support the opening lyrics. “Pass me that joint, it’s Willie’s birthday/ Wipe away all of your tears / Well the world’s gone crazy/ But we still got Willie and all the good things he’s done for us here,” Rateliff sings, urging the listener to look on the bright side of life. As the country/roots song progresses, the Nelson brothers, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Lane, and Andrews join in on vocals while Raphael creates melodies with his harmonica and Bobbie Nelson tickles the ivory. Horns take over by the end of the song, adding a cheerful and uplifting tone and carrying the number to its buoyant ending.
Celebrate Nelson’s birthday a few days early with Nathaniel Rateliff’s newest single, “Willie’s Birthday Song”.
Nathaniel Rateliff – “Willie’s Birthday Song”
[Video: Nathaniel Rateliff]
Rateliff recently postponed the remainder of his And It’s Still Alright tour due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He is currently scheduled to perform in Europe at the beginning of May, however, it is likely that those performances will see postponement as well. Head to Rateliff’s website for the latest tour information and to order the 7″ when it becomes available this summer.
[Originally published 4/24/20]