Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson are teaming up for the first time in 31 years with “Lay Me Down,” a new duet written by Lynn’s son-in-law, Mark Marchetti, and released on this spring’s Full Circle.
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.
“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.”
Released today, 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.