“Fly Me to the Moon” takes on a whole new meaning when Willie Nelson – America’s favorite octogenarian pothead – sings it.
The track is a deliriously fun opener to Nelson’s Frank Sinatra tribute album, adding a bit of winking, red-eyed humor to My Way, whose only shortcoming is its short – 35 minutes – runtime.
Whether he’s backed by a jazz orchestra as on “Fly Me” or a symphony orchestra as on “One for My Baby (And One More For the Road),” Nelson embodies these songs as if he’s been a swing man all his life, ignoring Sinatra’s phrasing and letting his craggy quaver go where it will. Mickey Raphael’s moody harmonica is a major presence and he, like Nelson, who sprinkles a few licks on Trigger here and there, seems to have no regard for where solos would traditionally belong.
Norah Jones is a beguiling presence on “What Is This Thing Called Love” and Nelson’s take on “It Was a Very Good Year” is positively haunting as the 85-year-old outlaw takes a look back.
And when the LP ends (way too soon) with the title track, it’s immediately clear “My Way” has been waiting for Willie Nelson is sing it all these years.