Willie Nelson Sings Toby Keith’s ‘Don’t Let the Old Man In’


No one can deny that Toby Keith's rendition of "Don't Let the Old Man In" is truly exceptional. However, that doesn't mean Willie Nelson's cover should be overlooked. The 90-year-old country icon recorded his version for his 2020 First Rose of Spring album, and it was a remarkable achievement. At that time, Nelson's age gave his performance a sense of urgency and importance, unlike Keith's version, which was inspired by Clint Eastwood, another octogenarian.

But in the years 2023 and 2024, as Keith's battle with cancer became more apparent, his original rendition of "Don't Let the Old Man In" took on a whole new meaning.


At the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards, Keith gave a stunning performance that left the audience in tears. Sadly, just four months later, he passed away at the age of 62.

Willie Nelson paid tribute to Keith with a heartfelt post on social media, but his cover of "Don't Let the Old Man In" might be an even better homage. The two versions are remarkably similar in terms of sound, although Nelson's vocals always have a unique quality to them. As he sings, one can sense his personal connection to the lyrics: "I knew all of my life, that someday it will end. Get up and go outside, don't let the old man in."

It's worth noting that Nelson wasn't the only artist to cover this song. During an interview with Taste of Country, Keith mentioned Englebert Humperdinck's version, as well as a few other international artists. Humperdinck's rendition can be found on his Reflections EP.


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