Music

Hear Willie Nelson Sing Toby Keith's Clint Eastwood-Inspired 'Don't Let the Old Man In'

Willie Nelson, left, and Toby Keith perform at the concert "Sing me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard" at the Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Al Wagner/Invision/AP)

When Toby Keith wrote "Don't Let the Old Man In," inspired by a conversation with the legendary Clint Eastwood, he probably never dreamed it would go on to be recorded by another hero: country music legend Willie Nelson.

Keith, who became friends with Eastwood when they met at a California golf course, took the song's title and sentiment directly from a conversation he had with the (now 90-year-old) actor.

"I [asked] 'What keeps you going?' and he said 'I get up every day and don't let the old man in.' And I went 'I'm writing this damn thing right now'," Keith said during a 2018 recent press conference. "I didn't ask if I could put it in the movie. I just went home and wrote it and sent it to him and hoped that he would consider it. And, you know, he did."

The "Should've Been a Cowboy" singer said writing a song for an American icon like Eastwood was a tall order, but it also pushed him to write the best and most powerful song he could. The song also addresses the Eastwood-inspired ethos of continuing to create and never ceasing to do what inspires you.

"I knew who I was writing it for and I knew who had inspired me to write it. I wanted to deliver him the best thing that I could," Keith said. "The second I wrote it, it was just like I jumped 500 feet in the air...I knew I had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish."

As fate would have it, Eastwood featured the song in his 2018 film The Mule, about a 90-year-old horticulturist who takes a job as a drug courier for a cartel.

Read More: Clint Eastwood: Meet the American Icon's 8 Children

To make the story of the song even sweeter, Keith's longtime friend Willie Nelson released his own version of "Don't Let the Old Man In" on his recently released album First Rose of Spring.

The song about living every day to the fullest is especially fitting for the 87-year-old country icon.

 

 

In an interview on SiriusXM, Nelson told Keith the line "Many moons I have lived...Ask yourself how would you be if you didn't know the day you were born" is one of the greatest he's ever heard.

"That's a heavy line, there," Nelson said. "Thank you for that, Toby."

Nelson said having both Eastwood and Nelson recognize the song is a gift.

"To have Clint Eastwood put it in the movie and have one of my friends and an American icon like yourself record it is just the best thing a songwriter could ever have," Keith told Nelson.

Keith and Nelson previously collaborated on the 2002 hit "Beer For My Horses." Nelson also appeared in Keith's video for "Wacky Tobaccy."

'Don't Let the Old Man In' Lyrics:

Don't let the old man in
I wanna leave this alone
Can't leave it up to him
He's knocking on my door
And I knew all of my life
That someday it would end
Get up and go outside
Don't let the old man in
Many moons I have lived
My body's weathered and worn
Ask yourself how would you be
If you didn't know the day you were born
Try to love on your wife
And stay close to your friends
Toast each sundown with wine
Don't let the old man in
Many moons I have lived
My body's weathered and worn
Ask yourself how would you be
If you didn't know the day you were born
When he rides up on his horse
And you feel that cold bitter wind
Look out your window and smile
Don't let the old man in
Look out your window and smile
Don't let the old man in

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Hear Willie Nelson Sing Toby Keith's Clint Eastwood-Inspired 'Don't Let the Old Man In'