Leave it to Willie Nelson — whose reddish-white hair, jolly disposition and fondness for green foliage sort of makes him the Stoner Santa Claus — to ditch the Christmas season’s traditional scents of frankincense and myrrh in favor of the potent, pungent aroma of marijuana.
Back in 2008, Shotgun Willie teamed up with a comedic dream team — including The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert, Daily Show executive producer David Javerbaum, Portlandia writer Allison Silverman and Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger — to deliver “The Little Dealer Boy,” a 420-friendly tribute to the holidaze. In the song, Nelson plays the oft-forgotten “fourth wise man” who shows up to Jesus’s crib with his own special gift. [Watch the video above.]
More from Rolling Stone
- Drunk Daddies and Penguin Spies: The 10 Most Bizarre Country Christmas Songs
- Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Jakob Dylan, More Cover Tom Petty's 'For Real'
- 'The Ranch' Soundtrack to Feature Lukas Nelson, Shooter Jennings Duet
“And like the child in this manger, this herb is mild, yet it is strong,” he sings over synthesized strings and acoustic guitars, adding, “and it brings peace to friend and stranger; good will to men lies in this bong.”
“Little Dealer Boy” made its prime-time debut as part of A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!, a Comedy Central TV special that aired in November 2008, just four days shy of Thanksgiving. During the hour-long broadcast, Colbert finds himself trapped in a cabin in New England. Boxed inside by a bear that’s been prowling the premises, he winds up soliciting visits from several friends — including Nelson, Toby Keith, John Legend, Feist and Elvis Costello — who drive away a potential case of cabin fever by playing some seriously off-beat Christmas songs.
The two-and-half-minute clip of “Little Dealer Boy” features Nelson — clad in a costume that could’ve been stolen from the nativity scene outside of the nearest church — delivering the song with stony stoicism, occasionally joined on background harmonies by a turtlenecked Colbert. Fourteen months after its release, the song helped Colbert (who recently bid his Comedy Central series and character farewell) win the 2010 Grammy for Best Comedy Album, proof that a holiday buzz goes a long way.
Best of Rolling Stone
- Hank Williams' Five Most Haunting Performances
- 'A Charlie Brown Christmas': The Making of a Classic Soundtrack
- 89 New Christmas Albums of 2019, Reviewed
See where your favorite artists and songs rank on the Rolling Stone Charts.