Originally created 09/10/04

Country singer pays a visit to Carter



PLAINS, Ga. - Willie Nelson visited his longtime friend, former President Jimmy Carter, on Thursday for the taping of a television special and a free concert for the residents of Mr. Carter's hometown.

"We have a long friendship," Mr. Carter said, noting that in recent conversations he and Mr. Nelson "couldn't think of any issue on any subject on which we disagreed."

Mr. Nelson responded: "I've always admired him. He did a great job as president."

After that accolade, Mr. Carter, who will turn 80 in October, said, "It makes me almost want to run again."

Calling Mr. Nelson one of the most significant country music performers in his lifetime, Mr. Carter said he was impressed that Mr. Nelson had maintained his "relationship with working people." Mr. Nelson is famous for his Farm-Aid concerts to help the nation's farmers.

"I'm still a farmer," Mr. Carter said, noting that he grows about 3,000 acres of corn, peanuts and wheat. "I'm in the field every chance I get."

The two were brought together again for CMT Homecoming: Jimmy Carter in Plains, a Country Music Television Special.

CMT spokeswoman Jana Bowen said the special should air in December.

Mr. Nelson joined Mr. Carter and the CMT crew for a tour of Mr. Carter's boyhood home in nearby Archery. Segments also were filmed at other locations that were significant in Mr. Carter's life.

"We wanted to get back to the roots of the celebrity, in this case Jimmy Carter," Ms. Bowen said. "Jimmy Carter told us that Willie Nelson was one of his favorite musicians."

CMT invited Mr. Nelson to take part, and he said "tell me when to be there," Ms. Bowen said.

At a news briefing, Mr. Carter and Mr. Nelson said they've sung Amazing Grace together in the past and probably would again during the Thursday evening concert on the grounds of Mr. Carter's former high school.

The school is now a part of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and features displays highlighting Mr. Carter's agrarian boyhood, his career as a Naval nuclear submarine officer and his entrance into politics. He served as Georgia's governor before moving into the White House as the nation's 39th president.

Mr. Nelson gave a concert in Plains in 1985 and sang Georgia on My Mind at a ceremony in Oslo, Sweden, when Mr. Carter received the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

"Georgia has been a song I knew," Mr. Nelson said. "It's one of my favorites. Ray Charles recorded it first, so some people thought that I had a lot of nerve."

Mr. Nelson called Plains, a rustic southwest Georgia town of 700, a "metropolis" compared with his hometown of Abbott, Texas, population 300, but said it reminded him of home.