Listen to Karen O & Willie Nelson cover David Bowie & Queen’s “Under Pressure”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O and the legendary Willie Nelson have teamed up to duet on a cover of the Queen & David Bowie classic "Under Pressure." TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek produced it, and it features guitar by Karen O's YYYs bandmate Nick Zinner, as well as Imaad Wasif and Johnny Hanson, and backing vocals by Priscilla Ahn.
Karen O says:
A friend on the board of NIVA asked if I knew of any country artists who could sign a letter to Congress asking them to help save independent venues from going extinct due to Covid. I recalled my buddy Johnny Knoxville being friends with Willie so I asked to see if he could check in with Willie about it, and then out of sheer audacity I added ‘and if he ever wants to do a duet I’m ready and willing!
Johnny came back with the news that the signature was in the works and Willie’s daughter Amy very supportively said ‘have her send him the song and he’ll sing on it!’ At this point my mind was melting but I had to focus and pull a song out of the ether that was worthy of a living legend and spoke to the people in troubled times, not an easy assignment. Then like a bolt out of the blue ‘Under Pressure’ came to mind—I’ve heard this song countless times without processing the gravity of what Bowie and Freddie were singing about, maybe because their performances are so exhilarating you get swept away in the high of that duet.
Our cover was meant to be more intimate but just as saturated with the power of love. I can’t listen to this song without tearing up every time Willie comes in, one of the purest voices which of course reflects a pure heart, and I get to sing alongside it. I never knew if it was actually going to happen but you must dare to dream. I hope the song brings as much light to the listener as it has to me in dark times.
There are no lack of covers of this song, and you've probably heard the original a thousand times, but this version is genuinely new and different and truly worth hearing. Listen below.