Familiarizing yourself with the friendship between Willie Nelson and former President Jimmy Carter, it turns out, is an absolutely joy.
The latest interview from country music legend Willie Nelson has us grinning from ear to ear. Within, the icon – crafter of countless American staples – speaks with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to delightful results. Among many colorful topics, the two discuss Willie’s friendship with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and, yes, getting high at the White House.
The interview serves CNN Films’ “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” which airs this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.
To start off, Cooper asks Nelson how he and the former president met. To Willie’s surprise, however, he can’t remember the exact time – simply because Carter and his wife Rosalyn had been to “so many” of his concerts. He does, though, recall their friendship blossoming during Carter’s presidential run.
As it did, Willie Nelson became part of a prestigious, small group of musicians to be invited to the white house. And it is there, as Jimmy Carter sat as President of the United States, that their friendship truly took off.
Willie Nelson Did, In Fact, Smoke Pot on the Roof of the White House
“Oh it was great,” Nelson recalls. “Jimmy and I would jog together – hang out – his son and I hung out together at the White House. It was a lot of fun.”
Taking note of a particularly “fun” instance mentioned in Willie Nelson’s autobiography, Cooper then asks of the now infamous tale of – you guessed it – Willie Nelson “smoking pot on the roof of the White House.”
“How did this end up happening?” CNN‘s Cooper smiles, after reaffirming the audience that President Carter did, in fact, later confirm the story.
“Oh I don’t know,” Nelson laughs. “You know, Chip and I were buddies, too,” he says of Carter’s son, who also happened to be on the roof that fateful night. “[Chip] was showin’ me around the White House. We went into the basement – and they have a bowing alley down there! We went into the Lincoln bedroom and all that good stuff.”
“And then we went up on the roof,” Nelson says with a slight smile. “[We] looked around… and that was pretty cool.”
Cooper, fittingly, bursts into laughter at this revelation. “That is pretty cool, indeed,” he smiles, echoing the sentiments of every Willie Nelson fan on the planet.
As for those who still see Jimmy Carter as a “cardigan-wearing,” strait-laced fellow, Nelson adds that he thinks their experiences together “shows how open minded [Carter] is. And how understanding he is.”
Cooper then recounts a brilliant quote from Carter in Rolling Stone Magazine, in which the former president says, quote:
“All the good things I did as President – all the mistakes I made: You can blame half of that on Willie.”
After his own burst of genuine laughter, Willie happily responds with “I accept.”
A badge of honor, surely, the two agree.
Jimmy Carter Returns Love to Willie Nelson
In turn, and unsurprisingly, former president Carter has nothing but loving words for his longtime friend, as well.
Pulling from that same piece in Rolling Stone‘s archives reveals an in-depth conversation famed news anchor Tom Brokaw had with Carter back in 2007. Within, Brokaw asks the former president: “What [other music] artists appeal to you?”
“I’ve always been very close to Willie Nelson; he’s been my buddy,” Carter answers immediately. “I’ve been on the stage with him four or five times – I always join him in singing “Amazing Grace” as a culmination of his program. He’s been to Plains twice, and he used to spend the night with me in the White House and go jogging with me.”
Brokaw retorts with a joke, asking if “The Secret Service didn’t worry about controlled substances when Willie was around?”
To which Carter gently replies: “Well, he never indicated an affinity for controlled substances when he was in the White House, so I don’t know.”