In “California Sober,” a new duet featuring the legendary Willie Nelson, BILLY STRINGS SINGS an ode to the high life. This is Strings’s first release under his new contract with Reprise Records, and it arrives just in time for Nelson’s 90th birthday.
“California Sober” is a fast-paced bluegrass song about (generally) sober existence. “I’ve had years I don’t recall, but I’m told I had a ball,” Strings sings in the first stanza, confessing that he abandoned alcohol and harder substances for his favorite crop.
“I’m California sober as they say,” he sings in the chorus, a melody ably assisted by renowned marijuana advocate Nelson. Later, the country legend takes his own turn at the microphone, singing about the diminishing returns of medications, alcohol, and cocaine. The talented instrumentalists in Strings’ ensemble perform blazingly quick solos.
The song, published on Nelson’s 90th birthday, celebrates the high life.
In the video, Strings is seen embracing Nelson in the studio as the band, including Nelson’s longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael, records the song. And, oh yeah, there’s also a lot of marijuana — joints are rolled and lighted, and in one particularly impressive scene, Strings plays a guitar solo while smoking a joint.
Nelson’s “Long Story Short” 90th birthday celebration will take place at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on April 29 and 30. Strings is among the many artists who will perform alongside Nelson. Neil Young, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Orville Peck, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Margo Price, and Sheryl Crow will also perform at the concerts.
Upcoming, Strings will bring his electrifying live performance to sold-out venues such as Colorado’s Red Rocks, Denver’s Mission Ballroom, and Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, as well as a string of dates that will keep him on the road until the end of 2023. His most recent studio album, Me/And/Dad, was released in 2022 and was a collaboration with his father, Terry Barber.