Susan Tedeschi knows family bands. For fourteen years she and her husband, slide guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, have led the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Grammy-winning groove-and-blues collective the two formed in 2010, after nearly a decade of sharing bills with their individual bands. Many of those shows also featured Derek’s other group, the Allman Brothers Band, which he’d been playing with since the mid-nineties—and which his uncle, drummer Butch Trucks, had cofounded himself.

But even before meeting Derek, Susan knew the family way was best; after her initial appearance at Farm Aid in 1999, she got tight with Willie and his wife Annie. He took Susan under his wing, giving her and her band spots on his tours, where she saw firsthand the musical and emotional ties that held the Family together. So when she discusses that unique dynamic now, she speaks with lived-it authority, though it’s easy to miss under all the affection.

(Read a transcript of this episode below.)

On this week’s episode of One by Willie, she explains all that, focusing on the Willie song that she and Derek most frequently cover, “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces.” It’s a deep cut off his 1998 album with Daniel Lanois, Teatro, and a jumping off point for memories of studying Willie’s songwriting and singing when she was a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, as well as the reason she thinks he could have been the blue-collar member of Frank Sinatra’s famous Rat Pack—with meaty cameo appearances by B.B. King, Jessica Simpson, and the Notre-Dame cathedral.

We’ve created an Apple Music playlist for this series that we’ll add to with each episode we publish. And if you like the show, please subscribe and drop us a rating on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

One by Willie is produced and engineered by Brian Standefer, with audio editing by Aisling Ayers and production by Patrick Michels. Our executive producer is Megan Creydt. Graphic design is by Emily Kimbro and Victoria Millner.


John Spong (voice-over): Hey there, I’m John Spong with Texas Monthly magazine, and this is One by Willie, a podcast in which I talk each week to one notable Willie Nelson fan about one Willie song that they really love. The show is brought to you by Still Austin craft whiskey.

This week, we talk to one of Willie’s longtime tour mates, Grammy-winning blues singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi, about another song off of his 1998 collaboration with Daniel Lanois, Teatro, and this time the song is “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces.” It’s a song she frequently plays live with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which is the group she leads with her husband, guitarist Derek Trucks, and it gets her thinking aloud on a couple foundational principles of Willie World: namely, the importance of family and of making music with people you love. With memorable cameos by the Allman Brothers, Jessica Simpson, the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, and Emmylou Harris, who Susan says is a “Jedi.”

So let’s do it.

[Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris singing “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”]

John Spong: All right. Well, as I say, where we always start is: What’s so cool about “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”?

Susan Tedeschi: Well, a lot of things are cool about this song. Actually, I first really learned about the song when I was doing Willie’s eighty-fifth birthday, in Nashville. He was doing a performance at Bridgestone and had a bunch of guests, and he wanted Derek and I to learn that song, as well as a couple other things. And when we did it, I looked it up and I was realizing there was this beautiful version of Willie doing it with Emmylou Harris. And I was like, “Oh, wow, this is really cool.” And then when I did it, I didn’t realize what key to do it in and all this stuff. So before you know it, I ended up just making my own melody around it, ’cause it was a little too low to sing it in his key, but I wanted to do it in the original key. I don’t know. I like doing things in the original key, ’cause I think they’re written there for a reason, usually, if I can.

Then when we were doing it, I realized, “Wow, this song is really pretty deep.” And we ended up taking the song and putting [it] in our repertoire with our band, Tedeschi Trucks Band. So every once in a blue moon, we’ll pull out “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” and it’s a really fun song. And I remember one night we were playing it, and it was the night that Notre-Dame caught fire. And we were actually on tour in Europe, over in Germany, I think, at the time. And I don’t know, when we do that song, it reminds me of Notre-Dame being on fire and also our bandmate Kofi, when he had passed away, we started doing that song, and it just got emotional. We were thinking about him a lot. So I started crying . . . a lot of times when I do this song, I think about one of those events, either Kofi or Notre-Dame being on fire.

But it’s just a really fun song to sing. And now Gabe will, in our band, Gabe Dixon, he’ll sing a little harmony part on it, and it’s just a nice little showcase. And I love the guitar solo, ’cause Derek will play in Willie’s style when he pulls out the solo, which is really fun. But yeah, it’s just a beautiful song and it’s just one of those songs that, for some reason, I didn’t know as much as a lot of the other songs of his, that I just either grew up knowing or I’ve heard through the years. So it was nice being turned on to another really beautiful song of his.

John Spong: Well, it’s one of those weird Willie songs that, so many of them, ’cause he’s been doing this for so long, so many of the songs show up on a record in the sixties, and then twice in the seventies, and then again in the eighties and stuff like that. And this, I think, really only shows up on that Teatro record that he did with Emmylou.

Susan Tedeschi: With Emmylou.

John Spong: . . . and Daniel Lanois. Maybe that’s the place to spin it. Will you listen to it with me?

Susan Tedeschi: Yes, of course.

John Spong: Oh, cool. All right. 

[Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris singing “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”]

Susan Tedeschi: Yay.

John Spong: Isn’t that something?

Susan Tedeschi: Yes. Beautiful. He has such a way of bringing different worlds together, too. When I hear a song like that, I hear the cowboy kind of chords, but then I hear Django Reinhardt and it sounds like you’re in Europe for a minute. And then it sounds like he’s playing some blues licks in the middle. He just brings all the worlds together.

John Spong: Yeah, ’cause so much . . . because of the Lanois rhythm element on that record, there’s a Latin kind of rhythm to it, and it influences Willie’s playing, I think, through the record. But that’s what kills me about his solo on this, ’cause there’s that moment where it just goes gut-bucket blues . . .

Susan Tedeschi: It really does.

John Spong: . . . for a bar or two or something like that. And it’s so cool, right?

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, it’s amazing.

John Spong: But then you just changed it for me, ’cause now, there’s the line in there too, “What I thought was heaven was just falling debris.” I’m going to picture Notre-Dame on fire . . .

Susan Tedeschi: I was picturing that when I sang that, and I didn’t even realize it, and then I just started crying. It was so crazy, ’cause it’s such an important place that has so much history. And then, I don’t know, in that moment, it just seemed really heavy, and then I just started crying on stage. And it’s such a visual; he’s so great at painting a picture. And just so many elements of this song that are simple, yet so well-developed. Just everything, from “Don’t follow my footsteps,” or “Step over my trail, the path is basically too narrow.” It’s just like this little . . . I don’t know, it’s all these visuals that I get when I sing the song.

It’s just really fun. And it’s beautiful. It flows out so easy, too. That’s the thing about a lot of his songs, they just come so effortlessly, almost like the song’s always been there. It’s like this beautiful creation, almost like a great sculptor. There’s this piece of granite, but this beautiful sculpture is made from this piece of rock, almost like it was always meant to be.

John Spong: Yeah. Like it lives inside there, even before somebody comes and starts chipping.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah.

John Spong: I love too, I had noticed in listening to the TTB version, that the melody does sound different. And a lot of times when a melody changes when it becomes a cover, that’s because somebody needs to make it their own. The idea that that happened because you wanted to keep it in the key where it was born . . . 

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah. So I ended up really—

John Spong: . . . it’s this kind of respect.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah. I almost kind of just start stealing the Emmylou part and kind of melding the two, is what really happened. So I sang a lot of her melody, her harmony, but mixed with his lead. So it kind of goes in and out of the—

John Spong: I love that.

Susan Tedeschi: Of the two parts. So I’m sort of paying tribute to both when I do it both, ’cause they’re both so fabulous.

[Susan Tedeschi singing “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”]

John Spong: Do you know the rest of the album very well, Teatro?

Susan Tedeschi: You know what? I guess I don’t. I don’t.

John Spong: It’s a—

Susan Tedeschi: I need to listen to that whole record. I love Daniel Lanois. I mean, he always has such an incredible sound and feel that he adds to records. Anyone from Dylan to whoever, you can really hear it.

John Spong: Yeah.

Susan Tedeschi: He has his own style.

John Spong: And that was it. I mean, he did one of those or both of those, I forget, I’m blanking on the years of the two Dylan records he did. But he did those, and he did the Emmylou Wrecking Ball record, which was such a big deal for her. And that’s when folks in Willie World were like, “We got to do this. With him.” And they did, and there’s nothing else in the catalog that sounds like it. Willie’s got a hundred and fifty other albums, genuine albums, and none of them sound like this. I mean, I remember even when it came out, the music writer for the Statesman in Austin referred to it as “Willie’s soon-to-be-controversial new album,” ’cause it was just a little out there. Can I play another song off of it for you?

Susan Tedeschi: Of course, and I was just looking it up. So that came out in ’98, and ’97 was Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan and Daniel Lanois.

John Spong: Yeah, yeah.

Susan Tedeschi: So they were right together. And then, I think the Emmylou, I mean, they’re probably all right in that same area of time.

John Spong: And they were recorded in the same place, which was this very weird, abandoned, old, dirty movie theater in Oxnard, California. Yeah, for real.

Susan Tedeschi: Wow.

John Spong: They turned it into a studio. Lanois and Mark Herman, was that his name? Mark Howard, his engineer, turned it into this crazy, crazy studio. I think Howard said, “It was cool in there, ’cause it was always midnight. No matter when you walked in, it was always midnight.” And so there’s no separation for the musicians. They just have them all sitting together. There were two drummers sharing a drum kit.

Susan Tedeschi: Oh.

John Spong: Yeah. I mean, it’s just wild. And so they recorded it in three days. And so what I’ll show you, they recorded it in two or three days, and then a day later, they had Wim Wenders come in, and they just ran through all the songs again, live. And that is this movie that . . . clips are on YouTube, but I found a copy of it. And so this is “My Own Peculiar Way,” which is an old Willie song, I’m sure you know. And let me share this screen again . . . because this is cool. 

Susan Tedeschi: I love hearing more of this kind of backstory into making the records, and where they were and getting a visual of that too. That’s really cool.

John Spong: Yeah, I don’t even have to describe the room, ’cause you’re fixing see it.

Susan Tedeschi: Oh, cool.

[Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris singing “My Own Peculiar Way”]

Susan Tedeschi: Well, that’s beautiful.

John Spong: Isn’t that cool?

Susan Tedeschi: That is so cool. What a trip. I love the whole scene that’s going on there. It is like a movie scene in an old movie theater. It’s really wild.

John Spong: If you watch the whole thing, some of the seats are still in the . . . the rising seats are still in the theater, so there’s Harry Dean Stanton, and there’s Woody Harrelson, and there’s Robbie Robertson, and they’re just all checking it out.

Susan Tedeschi: That’s amazing.

John Spong: Just admiring. Yeah. Yeah.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah. And Emmylou looks so beautiful. Wow, she is gorgeous.

John Spong: Yeah. I love the way she looks at him while they’re singing. When I talked to Lukas about another song off of this record, Lukas Nelson, he said, “Yeah, if you look real close, you can see the fear in her eyes as she’s trying to sing with him.” I don’t see it.

Susan Tedeschi: I was thinking the same thing, actually.

John Spong: Were you?

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, I can see it, because she’s trying to match up her phrasing with him, which is very tricky at times to follow anybody, really, if you want to really be in that. But she’s right on it. She’s watching him, and she does kind of give him a little space and then sneaks in there. But yeah, she’s a Jedi. She’s got it down. She knows him. It’s beautiful. Yeah, their chemistry is gorgeous. It’s really special.

[Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris singing “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”]

John Spong: So you grew up a Willie fan?

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, of course. My dad was kind of a folkie growing up, so I grew up listening to a lot of Dylan and a lot of blues and a lot of people that would come by and play the Newport Folk Festival, basically. So everything from the Staple Singers and Lightnin’ Hopkins to Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly. My dad and my mom both always really liked Willie as well, but my dad was a huge fan of Emmylou, Dolly, and Linda Ronstadt, when they did that Trio record.

John Spong: The Trio!

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah. So that’s when I started really hearing Emmylou a lot. And then I started realizing how great she was and then started diving into more of those artists: Kris Kristofferson and Willie and people like that. But Willie, I’ve always loved him. Him and Dolly Parton, I just think are two of the most amazing songwriters, too. And they’re people that we just take for granted, I feel like. We just, “Oh, well. We’re always going to have them. They’re always amazing. They’re always going to be adding to our American story.”

John Spong: Yeah. And they make it look effortless.

Susan Tedeschi: They do.

John Spong: And they’re such great performers that, when you’re a kid, it’s easy to think of them as a performer first, and then you start realizing, oh, either one of them would be in the Hall of Fame if they had simply composed.

Susan Tedeschi: Exactly, yeah. But then to be the performers that they are and the people that they are. See, that’s the other thing. I mean, Willie and Dolly, and people like B.B. King, they’re much bigger than just their songs and their singing, or their guitar-playing, or whatever. They’re really just such iconic figures as leaders and role models, of just good people that work hard and just are humble and listen to everybody. And they always make time for people, and they’re always helping a hand, as well as doing so many great things musically. So yeah, just an absolute doll.

Willie is just one of those people, he just makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room. And when he’s talking to you, he’s really looking at you, and he’s conversing with you and he makes you feel special. And he just has that way about him. But he’s really down to earth and he’s also very intelligent, to the point where he’s also a little bit of a trickster. Whether he’s going to take your money in a poker game or pull the wool over your eyes in a card trick, he’s always entertaining.

John Spong: Have you lost money in a poker game?

Susan Tedeschi: I have not. I have not. But he did teach me how to play dominoes, and that was quite fun.

John Spong: Oh yeah?

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah.

John Spong: On the bus?

Susan Tedeschi: No, actually out in Hawaii, at his place.

John Spong: Okay.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah. Him and Annie took in Derek and I one time, when Derek’s band was over there playing. And he was on his way back from Japan, and I said, “Hey, we’re going to stay with some friends of mine.” And I didn’t tell him. And Annie came and picked us up at the . . . well, Annie and I went and picked up Derek from the airport when he came into Hawaii from Japan. This is years ago, probably twenty years ago. And he still didn’t know where we were going, ’cause he didn’t know Annie. And then he went to bed and woke up and went out to the kitchen, and then Willie was there, he’s like, “Hey, can I make you some coffee, Derek? Did you sleep good?” He goes, “Hi, Willie Nelson!”

He didn’t even know he was staying at Willie’s house. It was amazing. It was so fun. But yeah, he would sit down, and we’d drink some coffee, and then he started teaching us how to play dominoes at his house. That was really fun. And Derek actually did get in on a poker game with some of the guys and some of the locals, and Derek gave me a lot of his personal favorite possessions to not let him walk in there with them, like his watch or something. It was really cute. But he held his own, he did good. He came out unscathed, so it was all successful.

John Spong: That is awesome. That is awesome. But wait: how did you wind up in a position where you get to go stay at Willie’s in the first place? How did you get to know him? Was it through Mellencamp and Farm Aid?

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, it was. It was through Mellencamp and Farm Aid in ’99, when I first met Willie, and we just really hit it off. We really had a strong connection, kind of right away. And him and Annie, I don’t know, just something about the two of them. They’re just such incredible people, they just feel like family to me, ever since I’ve known them. And I don’t know. Willie, when he asks me to do stuff, I just always kind of did it. I remember that first Farm Aid too, he was like, “There’s people going to Capitol Hill.” And I was like, “What?” ‘Cause we were playing just outside of Virginia. And he’s like, “Well, if you go up there, you can go up there and represent the farmers, and go talk to different House of Representatives and senators and stuff and learn more about it.” And he really encouraged all of the artists to go.

So the one year I went, ’99 or 2001, it was one of those. I think it was ’99, I went and the only other artist that showed up was Neil Young. So, Neil and I are speaking on Capitol Hill and meeting farmers and talking to people. And I remember meeting Orrin Hatch and all these different senators and Republi—like, representatives from the House of Representatives and stuff, in Congress. So it was really quite a learning experience. And because of that, just stayed friends and they were gracious and invited us out, and I just took them up on their offer. 

John Spong: That’s pretty great. Without, hopefully, prying. . . . Well before even that, what’s it like on stage with him? I know that a big thing with y’all is having people sit in or sitting in with them. You just spoke about how terrifying it is to try and harmonize with him, but do you just marvel? Especially as a guitarist, when he goes to take off on a solo . . .

Susan Tedeschi: Oh, yeah.

John Spong: What do you do?

Susan Tedeschi: Well, he’s got Django Reinhardt in his blood. So it’s so cool, you just never know where the solo’s gonna go. And you know what’s interesting too, is him and Willie . . . well, Willie and B.B. King have a lot in common. They both love a lot of the same guitar players. They had as heroes Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, and Lonnie . . .

John Spong: Johnson?

Susan Tedeschi: And Lonnie Johnson. They both love them. And so it’s kind of interesting to hear where they both went from those similar kind of styles and you can hear—

John Spong: Fork in the road.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, ’cause obviously B.B. went more blues. And then Willie has a lot of blues in him, and he has the Django and the Charlie Christian too, but he’s got that gypsy, kind of cowboy thing going. I don’t know what it is. He’s got his own style, but he’s so melodic. So I think being the songwriter that he is, he just incorporates that into his melodies that he writes for a guitar solo, a lot of times. But yeah, I don’t know. It’s just such a trip. He’s just so fun. And actually, I love hopping up on stage with him. It usually feels pretty effortless and not too stressful. And even if I don’t even know the song, I just know I’m going to have a great time.

John Spong: That’s so funny.

Susan Tedeschi: So I don’t even think twice about it. I just hop up there and been doing it for years. So it always works out somehow.

​​[Willie Nelson “City of New Orleans” live at Bridgestone Arena]

John Spong: Yeah. The Smithsonian gave you an award, the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, and I love this description: “For advancement in areas of interest to the institution.” You have been important in stuff the Smithsonian thinks is cool, which is kind of the coolest. Right?

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, I’m very blown away and humbled by that whole experience. Sometimes it’s just right place, right time. And it’s also a lot of what we were just talking about. It’s about the American experience, and I feel like I am a good product of the melting pot of American music. I am such a fan of so many of those different styles that are the roots of American music: jazz, blues, gospel, soul music, and all that. And of course, bands like the Allman Brothers, which, I ended up marrying Derek, who was in the Allman Brothers for fifteen years.

So I really got a nice window into that world as well. And how a lot of those same, that band is a good example also of bringing the rock and roll and the blues and all the things together as well, except they’re the American version of Led Zeppelin or the Stones or something. They’re just the real American version of it, to me. And they invented a style, and seeing those guys live was really powerful. It’s way more than southern rock. People are like, “Oh, they’re a southern rock band.” I’m like, “No, they’re not.” They’re actually more than that, ’cause they incorporated a lot of jazz influence as well, where they really could branch out and improvise and do things, but they were grooving, and they were moving. You can’t not dance to that stuff. I mean, they had such a beautiful pocket and soulful songs. I mean, Greg Allman’s one of the most soulful singers I’d ever heard. 

John Spong: There’s cool overlap there between them and the TTB, but also Willie too. There are these large ensembles that are improvising a lot. There’s a looseness. It’s about the groove, but it’s also built on family.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, it’s built on family.

John Spong: All three of those bands are genuine, loving family relationships before the music even starts.

Susan Tedeschi: Absolutely, absolutely. And that’s where a lot of the great chemistry comes from, is loving each other and not having things that hold you back. Being able to be free and to be supportive of each other and have that trust. A lot of it’s trust. It’s knowing that you’re going to go out there, and you’re going to have each other’s back, and you’re going to kick ass. Even if you’re butting heads before you get on stage, you get on that stage, you’re one team, you’re one tribe, you’re one family. It doesn’t matter. Somebody’s having a bad day, somebody will help pick you up. It’s not all the weight on one person, and that’s pretty amazing.

John Spong: Well, I mention the Smithsonian thing because I noticed in your acceptance speech that Willie and B.B. King were among the first people you thanked. You said he took you under his wing and that helped get you to where you got.

Susan Tedeschi: They really did. Well, they were the first ones to really take me on major tours and also to give me some confidence that I don’t think I really had as a young person and as a young woman. They gave me confidence that I could hang with the boys, and I could be out there doing what I do, as a songwriter, as a guitar player, as a singer. And I don’t know, they just made me believe that I could do anything. I could do it. And they did look out for me. And they were very loving and supportive, and always had really positive and nice things to say. And always gave me a lot of their time, which is so precious. So I really did feel like I owe them so much. I mean, I really have so much gratitude towards both of them.

John Spong: Yeah. A weird question, and I swear I’m almost done, but a weird question: when you went to the Berklee College of Music, did Willie come up much?

Susan Tedeschi: Well, actually, he did come up. I actually took a country music class at one point. And it was really studying everything from the Nashville method, which is just instead of using letters, just thinking ones, fours, and fives. And Hank Williams in the old days, and then the Carter family, and then they would talk about Willie Nelson, and they would talk about different artists and songwriters and stuff. Yeah, so Willie did come up at Berklee, believe it or not. But he’s just one of those guys. He has so many beautiful songs.

So, one of the things that I was doing at school at the time was I was a singer. And so I would get up and audition a lot for a lot of different performance-based things, and I would notice a lot of people would have his songs. Somebody would always be doing a Willie song, just because they’re so great. 

John Spong: Did they give a sense, just for the point of the exercise, if you start at Hank Williams in terms of the way he put a song together and what he did, and then you go to Willie, where have you gone? Where did Willie take country music from Hank Williams?

Susan Tedeschi: I think he became more of a crooner. He really was more of a Frank Sinatra in a way, but much deeper to me, personally. Just because he was such an iconic songwriter. So he could write, but he was classy. So to me, if you hear some of his old singing, Willie, he really does sound like one of those, I don’t know, like he could have been in the Rat Pack or something, ’cause he had that crooner style. But he got down on a more hardworking level, like a blue-collar worker kind of vibe. So he could cross all the borders. Once again, you can dress him up or dress him down, but he’s still the same beautiful person, and he’s always adding so much to the conversation.

So I don’t know. For me, he was able to do a lot of different things, and he still is. He’s always reinventing himself, and he’s always keeping his mind open of having different guests. It could be anybody from a Sturgill Simpson to a Snoop Dogg, it doesn’t matter. It could be anybody. He can get up with anybody and play, and everybody loves him. I’ve never heard a musician be, like, “No, I don’t like Willie Nelson.” I’ve heard people say, “I don’t like Aretha Franklin,” which is shocking to me, but . . .

John Spong: . . . which I don’t get either.

Susan Tedeschi: . . . and I don’t understand that. But I’ve never heard somebody say they don’t like Willie. So that’s pretty amazing.

John Spong: That’s pretty amazing. And I’m picturing him now as the member of the Rat Pack with a little dirt and maybe motor oil under his fingernails.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, on a horse.

John Spong: On a horse.

[Willie Nelson playing “My Own Peculiar Way”]

John Spong: Oh, that’s everything. This is so awesome. There’s one other thing I wanted to ask. I don’t even need it, but I just want to. You’ve got a nineteen-year-old and a twenty-one-year-old, and I’m guessing that with all the touring through the years, they probably got to spend time with Willie when they were kids?

Susan Tedeschi: Yep.

John Spong: What was that like?

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, they got to meet him a few times and hang out. Tried to make sure it wasn’t when we were smoking and stuff, but—

John Spong: Well, yeah.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah, ’cause they were little, but he’s just very family oriented. He’s a good listener, and he’s a good storyteller. So he’s always been very sweet to my kids, and now my kids get along with his kids, so that’s really nice. My daughter stays in touch with Lukas and Micah, which is really nice. But I don’t know, I think . . . I don’t know what it’s like, because it’s just stuff that happens and it’s really hard to go back and remember all of the stories and all the things. But it’s just more of a feeling. It’s like that homey feeling of family, like you were saying. And that, to me, is Annie and Willie, all day long. They’re family, and you would go and do anything for them at any time if they needed you. They’re just somebody that you would drop everything for.

John Spong: Yeah, yeah. I’m so grateful to you for giving me your morning and talking Willie with us.

Susan Tedeschi: Oh, my gosh. I’m so grateful, and I wish I had more specific things to say. I wish I could remember more, but I think it’s all that pot that I smoked over the years with Willie and Neil.

John Spong: It seems to be part of the transaction, part of the deal.

Susan Tedeschi: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t smoke pot till I was twenty-five, but I haven’t stopped. So. . . . [laughs] Oh, I—

John Spong: Yeah?

Susan Tedeschi: I do have a funny story that I can share. So, I played at Willie’s seventieth birthday as well, and it was at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. And my band opened up, and then Shelby Lynne was there with her band too, ’cause it was Willie’s birthday, and I think they played also. So I think it was the three bands. I think it was us and Shelby Lynne and Willie. And then, Willie always gets you up on, usually, certain parts of the set. And for me, it’s always the gospel set, like, “Oh, come on up during the gospel medley,” which is always a blast. And so I’m up there singing with Shelby and we’re having a great time. We’re singing back-up for him, and we’re just up there hanging with the band.

Then, it’s his birthday. So Jessica Simpson comes out and she starts singing “Happy Birthday” to him, and she’s like grinding on his leg and getting all sexual. And we’re like, “What the heck’s happening right now?” But he had just done Dukes of Hazzard with her, so she was looking all hot, and we’re like, “Yeah, Willie. Go Willie.” He’s seventy and here’s Jessica’s being all hot and whatever, but it was hilarious. And Shelby just started squeezing my hand, she was horrified, ’cause then everybody in the audience starts singing along, “Happy Birthday,” along with her. Well, she decides to take it upon herself to sing another verse of “Happy Birthday,” ’cause she wants to sing it to him personally, and she’s singing it, like, Marilyn Monroe–style.

It was just hilarious, and we just had a great time, and Willie’s just cracking up, and it was just so sweet. He was just so happy, and we just had a ball. But I just remember how funny it was that it was terrifying. Shelby Lynne and I, we were all just laughing and having a good time. And you just never know who’s going to hop up on stage with Willie. It’s just one of those examples. You just got to be ready for anything.

[Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris singing “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”]

John Spong: All right, Willie fans. That was Susan Tedeschi talking about “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces.” A huge thanks to her for coming on the show, a big thanks to our sponsor, Still Austin craft whiskey, and a big thanks to you for tuning in. If you dig the show, please subscribe, maybe tell a couple friends, and visit our page at Apple Podcasts and give us some stars. And please also check out our One by Willie playlist over at Apple Music.

Oh, and be sure to tune in next week to hear six-time Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and virtuoso guitarist John Leventhal talk about the song that first clued him into the genius of Willie, ”Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

We’ll see you guys next week.