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Billy Strings Stays ‘California Sober’ With Help From Willie Nelson

Track is out a day ahead of Nelson's star-studded 90th birthday shows in L.A.
Photo: Christopher Morley

Billy Strings gets a lift from the legendary Willie Nelson and his harmonica player Mickey Raphael on his new single “California Sober.” The song is out today along with a video of the artists recording the song together. “California Sober” is also Strings’ first release as part of a new deal with Reprise Records.


The amiable track extolls the virtues of the titular lifestyle, which often involves substituting marijuana for alcohol. “Well, I used to like to ramble with my good-time friends and neighbors / now I find I’d rather lie awake in bed,” Strings sings. “And I don’t get to acting mean when I keep my buzzes clean / and keep the hard stuff and the whiskey from my head.”

The release of the song is tied to Nelson’s 90th birthday tomorrow (April 29), which he will celebrate with two star-packed concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Strings is one of dozens of performers confirmed to appear, including Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Kacey Musgraves, Leon Bridges, and the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir.

The heavy-touring Strings will be on the road through a New Year’s Eve show in New Orleans. Aside from the Nelson birthday bash, he will next be seen at a sold-out May 11-12 run at Red Rocks outside of Denver and has also lined up new European tour dates in November.