Nelson will be joined by an all-star supporting cast Wednesday night for a rendition of his newest fan favorite “Roll Me Up,” a song he’s been closing his live shows with lately to great reaction. Toby Keith, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Jamey Johnson will join the party on stage at Bridgestone Arena in front of a live audience of thousands and CMT’s viewing audience.
“You can be there when we spring it on the Nashville crowd,” Nelson said. “That will be the big test, I think.”
The CMTs are known for interesting mashups and Nelson’s ode to marijuana has real comic potential. An infectious song from his new album Heroes that invites you to sing along, Nelson plays on his reputation for recreational opportunities with the chorus of “Roll me up and smoke me when I die.”
Rucker immediately loved the song when he first heard it.
“It’s so Willie,” he said. “It’s just get up there, play it live and have people dance along to it. It’s really what Willie does best. His voice sounds so cool on it. It’s just one of those Willie songs that’s just undeniable.”
It’s not the first time Nelson has recorded a song that’s gotten stuck in our brains. “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” with Waylon Jennings and the evergreen anthem “On the Road Again” have been on repeat in America’s collective memory for decades.
Yet Nelson’s not sure exactly what makes a song go viral.
“If I knew the answer to that I’d be a trillionaire,” Nelson said. “You’ve got to be lucky and trust your instincts and judgment. And I’ve found that people all over the world are not that much different in the things they like and in the things they laugh and cry about. And if it makes me happy, there’s a good chance that someone else is going to like it.”
The group performance at the awards will cap a busy trip to Nashville for Nelson. He’ll also be performing his classic album Healing Hands of Time with the Nashville Symphony.
Nelson doesn’t make it to town that often, and Rucker said he wasn’t about to miss out on the chance to hang with the iconic singer and Wednesday’s all-star lineup.
“For me to be out there with those guys, I’m excited,” Rucker said. “It’s going to be fun. I wouldn’t miss that party.”