Willie Nelson Explains Logic Behind Frank Sinatra Album, Which Songs He Picked

by Joe Rutland

Country music legend Willie Nelson never gets tired of talking about or singing songs first done by his friend, Frank Sinatra.

Now you might not believe both “The Red Headed Stranger” and “Ol’ Blue Eyes” could really be friends. Yet it’s true, Nelson said. He’s getting ready to release his second album of Sinatra cover songs called “That’s Life.” Songs included on the album are the title track, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.”

Willie Nelson, 87, is doing this album as a follow-up to 2018’s “My Way” that brought him a Grammy Award.

He was asked if the song selections for “That’s Life” had some connection to something that happened in his life.

In an interview for Parade Magazine, Nelson said, “I don’t know. I guess somewhere in there some brilliant psychiatrist might tie that all together. I don’t know, but I just do what I like, and, so far, it’s been working pretty good.”

Willie Nelson Says Sinatra Is ‘Favorite All-Time Singer’

Nelson also said he puts his own spin on Sinatra songs.

“Well, first of all, Frank Sinatra is my favorite all-time singer,” he said, “and I read somewhere that I was his favorite singer, so for years and years, I’ve been a Sinatra fan.

“I don’t think he ever sang the same song twice the same way. He followed his own instincts.”

Nelson remembers the first time that he met Sinatra, too.

“He and I did a commercial together for something, and then I did a couple of songs with him on one of his albums, ‘My Way,'” Nelson said. “I did that (song) with him and ‘A Foggy Day in London Town.’ I think we did a video on that one. So we’ve been doing things together for a long time.”

Nelson Recalls Last Time He Saw Sinatra Alive in Las Vegas

Nelson also said the last time he saw Frank Sinatra was in Las Vegas.

“He invited me back to his house after the show,” Nelson said. “One of my main regrets is that I really didn’t have time to go. I had a bus to get on that was going to L.A. or something, but I loved Sinatra. I loved everything he did.”

It sounds improbable that a country singer like Nelson and a self-proclaimed saloon singer like Sinatra truly got along. But they respected one another and the songs each other produced. Nelson’s biggest-selling album is “Stardust,” an album filled with standards like the title song.

His taste for the Great American Songbook remains insatiable. Nelson is hoping to catch magic in a bottle one more time with “That’s Life,” which will be released later in February.