Lots of books have been written about Willie Nelson over the years, but the one out this week takes a refreshingly different angle. "Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band," published Tuesday by Random House, is a memoir that focuses as much on Bobbie Nelson, the longtime pianist in Willie’s band, as it does on the Red Headed Stranger himself.
Written with author David Ritz, who worked with Willie on the 2015 autobiography "It’s a Long Story: My Life," the new book delves into Willie and Bobbie’s lifelong relationship. Onstage, Willie often refers to Bobbie as "little sister," but in fact she’s a couple of years older. Willie turned 87 this past March; Bobbie will be 90 on New Year’s Day 2021.
The two are scheduled to appear Tuesday evening on NBC’s "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon." That follows a Tuesday morning interview on the network’s "Today" show with NBC News correspondent Harry Smith.
Willie and Bobbie engaged in some entertaining banter during the four-minute "Today" segment. "My little sister was always on the piano doing great music," Willie recalled of their childhood years. "I would sit there on the piano stool beside her and try to figure out what the hell she was doing."
Bobbie, in turn, claimed that "Willie has the most musical talent of us both; he was just born with it."
Willie took exception. "Sister Bobbie is 10 times a better musician than I am," he said. "I’m a little better con man I think," he added, to laughter all around and Bobbie’s quick affirmation: "He’s a great con man!"
Asked about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept the famous "On the Road Again" singer and his band off the road for more than six months now, Willie responded thoughtfully.
"It’s tough for me, but I understand that it’s also tough for millions of other people out there who might not be as fortunate as we are. We do have a home and we’re safe. We don’t have to get out and take a chance on getting sick, unless we’re just dumb enough to go do it."
Nelson’s music also surfaced Tuesday morning as part of the first in four HAAM Day livestreams benefiting the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Austin artist Walker Lukens played a splended solo-piano version of Nelson’s classic "Funny How Time Slips Away" from shuttered East Austin venue Scoot Inn. He noted that he recently recorded a full album of Nelson tunes titled "Red Headed Strangers" that he’ll be selling on his website, with all proceeds going to HAAM.
And Nelson made headlines over the past week regarding a new documentary, "Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President," which detailed the relationships the 39th president had with musicians such as Nelson, Bob Dylan and June Carter & Johnny Cash.
RELATED: USA Today on the new Jimmy Carter documentary
Stories circulated for decades about Nelson smoking pot at the White House in a visit during Carter’s presidency. Nelson confirmed it in his 2015 memoir, noting that he partook with a White House staffer.
"That is not exactly true," Carter reveals in the documentary. "It was one of my sons, but he didn't want to categorize him as a pot smoker like him."
The documentary also touches on another time Nelson visited Carter at the White House.
"I had just been to Jamaica and got busted (for marijuana possession) down there," Nelson says in the film. "I was so excited to get out of jail I jumped off the porch and sprung my ankle, and then the next day I had to go see the President of the United States. It was really kind of funny. We laughed about it a lot."
RELATED: Our 2007 American-Statesman interview with Bobbie Nelson