AUSTIN, Texas -- I went to a taping of
Early Friday night,
As eager as any entertainer here to appear down with the locals, Kimmel peppered his monologue Friday (for an episode that aired that night) with jokes about tacos and ribs and Gov. Rick Perry; he even made a show of pardoning a cow from being eaten for dinner.
But nothing pleased the audience in which I sat like his choice of musical guest: Willie Nelson, the 80-year-old country-music legend whom Kimmel described to enthusiastic approval as "possibly our greatest living Texan."
For Kimmel's show, Nelson, who's scheduled to play SXSW on Saturday night as part of the
But he didn't really start cooking until after the cameras turned off and he revved up a killer 20-minute jam that strung together classics such as "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Crazy" and "Night Life." His guitar playing here -- on Trigger, of course, the beat-up Martin acoustic he's been using for decades -- was a thing of wonder, melodic but rhythmic, silky yet not without rough edges. It was a sound you could keep listening to for hours.
Which may have been Nelson's idea. After asking the crowd if he could play one more -- it was Tom T. Hall's "Shoeshine Man" -- he evidently changed his mind and ran through what he described as a new song, with words about how "I know you love me, 'cause I love you too / But you can't tell me what to do."
Wouldn't dream of it, Willie.