Country legend Willie Nelson used one of his timeless tracks to address one of today’s biggest political controversies.
Nelson took a moment during the ceremony marking his awarded the Gershwin Prize to comment on the current Syrian refugee debate.
“I think this is one of the most appropriate songs that we could do for this period in America,” Nelson said to the crowd at Washington D.C.’s DAR Constitution Hall. “Many years ago, I recorded this song and I felt like this might be a good time to kind of try to bring it back.”
Then, Nelson performed his 1986 track “Living In the Promised Land” for the first time since 2004. Accompanied by his sons Lukas and Micah, he performed the incredibly timely anthem. “Give us your tired, your weak, and we will make them strong,” Nelson sang. “There’s still a lot of love, living in the Promiseland.”
“Leave It to Willie” host Don Johnson said after the heartfelt performance: “Only he can bring together Republicans and Democrats.” The emotional moment drew a standing ovation from a crowd full of politicians, both Republican and Democrat.
Nelson followed up his politically-charged song with a rendition of his classic hit “On the Road Again”. The special ceremony also featured tributes to the 82-year-old by Neil Young, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss, Paul Simon and Leon Bridges.