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Sing us a song and we'll let you off, court tells Nelson

A melodious end is in sight in the marijuana case that ensnared the country singer Willie Nelson when a search of his tour bus last November by keen-nosed West Texas troopers turned up a small stash of the prohibited weed: he will be let off on condition he sings for the judge and prosecutor in court.

The novel deal was cooked up by the attorney Kit Bramblett, who had been chosen to prosecute the case. "You bet your ass I ain't gonna be mean to Willie Nelson," he declared this week, revealing that he had even selected the song he wanted to hear, also a favourite of Judge Becky Dean Walker.

Thus the next time Nelson travels anywhere close to the tiny town of Sierra Blanca in western Texas, he will be required to show up in Judge Walker's courtroom and give his best rendition of his own classic number, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain". There are no plans – as yet – to sell tickets.

It sounds like a sweet deal for the performer, who in theory faced as many as 150 days behind bars if convicted of the original charges for possession of six ounces of marijuana. Upon his arrest he was taken to a county jail and only released upon payment of $2,500 bail.

Mr Bramblett later concluded that there had not been as much weed on the bus as originally estimated. Exactly how that discrepancy arose is not clear, though Mr Bramblett offered one explanation to a local paper that presumably was not said entirely in earnest. "Between me and the sheriff, we threw out enough or smoked enough so that there's only three ounces," he told the Big Bend Sentinel.

"Willie Nelson is 77 years old and I'm 78," Mr Bramblett added. "He's been my favourite artist all my life. We all know he smokes a little pot."

Nelson, who has campaigned to legalise marijuana, will also have to pay $378 in fines and court fees.