Willie Nelson Lends His Voice to Sports-Themed Vaccination PSA
Willie Nelson cut a new version of the standard "I'll Be Seeing You" in a PSA urging viewers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 so they can attend live sporting events. His mellow, weathered tones convey a range of emotions. It's a take perfectly suited to the wistful yet hopeful tenor of the song and our times.
"I sing 'I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places,' and that's exactly what I hope these PSAs will help do: help get Americans informed about the vaccines and one step closer to the people and moments we miss," the music icon says in a statement.
Nelson, 87, who received his shots a few weeks ago, recorded the track specifically for the 90-second film, though he doesn't appear in it. Developed under the Ad Council's "It's Up to You" banner, the clip, produced in partnership with 13 sports leagues and organizations, features footage from professional playing fields and stadiums.
Happy, triumphant and moving scenes include Jordan Spieth celebrating after his 2017 Travelers Championship victory, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff embracing at the U.S. Open, and New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso going yard.
The Ad Council and its Covid Collaborative of health experts devised the spot with agency Pereira O'Dell and these leagues and organizations:
• American Horse Council
• Athletes Unlimited
• Major League Baseball
• Major League Soccer
• National Women's Soccer League
• U.S. Open Tennis Championships
"There are things that we all miss and hope to see again soon, and getting vaccinated is the first step to returning to those people and moments we miss the most," Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer at the Ad Council, tells Muse. "The song has already been used in another recent PSA of ours, showing a grandmother finally getting to hug her grandchildren, something that resonates with so many people. So, whether it's getting back to family, or sports moments, the song which Willie Nelson so beautifully covered is a symbol for all that we hope to return to."
That earlier effort featured Billie Holliday's famous recording of the 1938 song. The Ad Council tapped Nelson for the new PSA because "he is universally loved and a recognizable voice of America," Hillman says.
"Within just two days of signing on, Willie Nelson recorded the vocals over a ukulele musical arrangement we had on the rough cuts," Hillman recalls. "He recorded in his home studio and we were able to edit into the spot the following day."
The work drives folks to GetVaccineAnswers.org for reliable information and follows memorable "It's Up to You" PSAs starring all the living U.S. presidents and first ladies (except Donald and Melania Trump). At present, about 13.5 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. Experts say life can return to some semblance of pre-virus normality when about 75 percent of the population achieves immunity.
To some extent, the "I'll Be Seeing You" spot recalls last year's uplifting tribute to healthcare heroes from big-time athletes, who literally gave doctors and nurses the shirts off their backs.
Of late, Nelson has received a fair share of commercial play, appearing in deep-fake form for Omega Mart, and lending his precious pipes to Kohl's 2020 holiday campaign.