Credit: Larry Busacca

Stephen Colbert inducted country superstar Toby Keith into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Thursday evening. At first the pairing might have raised an eyebrow or two—certainly Colbert-in-character would love the “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” singer, but did actual Colbert? Turns out, the answer is an overwhelming “Yes.” The TV host spoke of the first time he met the singer and his astonishing career topping the music charts.

(Country hitmaker Bobby Braddock, late blues icon Willie Dixon, songwriting partners Robert Hunter and the late Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, ’80s pop chart-topper Cyndi Lauper and Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes were also inducted at the event.)

Read an excerpt of Colbert’s speech below and see the full version over at Billboard.

And my favorite part was of the [Keith’s visit to The Colbert Show] was, as the Big Dog was leaving out the stage door and I was going to the rewrite room — this was very early on in my show and he didn’t know what he was in for, I guess — he turned around to me and he said, ‘Hey man, you do a great job … whatever the f— it is you do.’

I was sincerely, deeply moved by that comment, so much so that my executive producer — this is true — had it stitched on a pillow for me for Christmas. [He holds up a pillow with those words stitched into it, a few words are obscured by cheering.] This is a man who rose from Oklahoma’s oil fields — where he worked on a rig — and the state’s football fields — where he was a semiprofessional defensive end — to become one of the most consistent hitmakers in country music for more than two decades. These days, the stamina of an oil rigger and the strength of an athlete are a definite advantage to making it in Nashville.“For instance, the song I just sang is the heartwarming tale of a man in a bar who has sex with two women — who happen to be sisters. Family values [a few words obscured by laughter]. It is with great pride joy that I welcome Toby Keith into the Songwriters Hall of Fame!

A highlight of Colbert’s time on stage was his performance of “As Good As I Once Was”—check it out below.