The two singers last shared the same stage at Farm Aid 1985’s kick-off concert. Both continued to tour heavily during the years that followed, but their schedules rarely, if ever, crossed paths. That changed when Lynn began working on Full Circle, an album recorded at Johnny Cash’s old cabin and co-produced by her daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell. There’s a nostalgic bent to the record, whose tracklist includes old Appalachian folk songs and new recordings of country standards, so it’s unsurprising that Lynn would reach out to old friends like Willie Nelson, hoping to put an end to years of distance with a heartfelt, harmony-heavy duet.
Released on March 20, 2016, the video for “Lay Me Down” is simple and stark, with the two living legends wandering the empty halls and dressing rooms of Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium before winding up onstage together. There, they serenade an empty room, with Lynn’s dress sparkling under the stage lights. Directed by David McClister, the video — like the song itself — finds the pair dealing with their own mortality with elegance. “I’ll be at peace when they lay me down,” goes the chorus, and while Lynn and Nelson sing those words without regret, it’s clear they plan on filling many more stages before that time arrives.
“Me and Willie hit Nashville about the same time,” Lynn tells Rolling Stone Country. “I always loved Willie. He’s always been a great guy, and he was always so nice to me. He wasn’t one of those guys hanging around just trying to go with you, or nothing like that. He was writing songs trying to make a living. . . Willie was a great songwriter when I met him, and it took him longer to realize he was a singer, too. He’s so good.”
Full Circle, produced by Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash, and recorded at the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, takes listeners on a journey through Loretta’s musical story. From the Appalachian folk songs and gospel music she learned as a child, to new interpretations of her classic hits and country standards, to songs newly-written for the project. Released on March 4 through Legacy Recordings, Full Circle has also earned the music legend her highest-ever chart debut on the Billboard 200, entering at #19. The album has already been garnering glowing reviews: NEW YORK TIMES chief pop music critic Jon Pareles praised Lynn’s work saying,
“She continues to draw lessons from a life in which hard work, talent, instinct and stubborn determination have sustained her for more than 50 years as a country star.”
With over 3 million views on YouTube, Loretta Lynn‘s “Lay Me Down” duet with Willie Nelson is definitely not a music video you want to pass up. Here’s the video for you.