Archive for the ‘Duets and collaborations’ Category

Willie Nelson and Paul Simon

Friday, April 17th, 2015


Track list to new Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard Album, “Django and Jimmie”

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

by: Craig Hlavaty

More details were released on Wednesday regarding the upcoming duets album from country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

“Django and Jimmie” will hit physical and digital shelves on June 2, according to a press release from Nelson’s camp Wednesday morning.

The title of the album refers to Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers, two of the major musical heroes for Nelson and Haggard.

This will be Nelson’s sixth studio album in the past two years since signing with record label Legacy Recordings in early 2012.

His first album with Haggard, “Pancho & Lefty,” was released more than 32 years ago in January 1983.

Haggard told Rolling Stone that the album took less than a week to record.

Haggard was last in the Houston area on April 1, playing a set at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford. Nelson played a sold-out date at the Houston House of Blues in November 2014. There is always the possibility they could return to the Bayou City and play the same stage if we wish hard enough.


The “Django and Jimmie” track listing is as follows:

  1. “Django and Jimmie” – written by Jimmy Melton and Jeff Prince
  2. “It’s All Going to Pot” – written by Buddy Cannon, Jamey Johnson and Larry Shell
  3. “Unfair Weather Friend” – written by Marla Cannon-Goodman and Ward Davis
  4. “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash” – written by Merle Haggard
  5. “Live This Long” – written by Shawn Camp and Marv Green
  6. “Alice in Hulaland” – written by Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon
  7. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” – written by Bob Dylan
  8. “Family Bible” – written by Walter M. Breeland, Paul F. Buskirk, and Claude Gray
  9. “It’s Only Money” – written by Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon
  10. “Swinging Doors” – written by Merle Haggard
  11.  “Where Dreams Come To Die” – written by Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon
  12. “Somewhere Between” – written by Merle Haggard
  13. “Driving The Herd” – written by Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon
  14. “The Only Man Wilder Than Me” – written by Merle Haggard

See Billy Joe Shaver Show in Ashville, NC (Friday, April 17th)

Thursday, April 16th, 2015


photo:  Jim McGuire
by:  Dan Armonaitis

The opening track on Billy Joe Shaver’s latest album, “Long in the Tooth,” says it all.

The song, “Hard to Be an Outlaw,” bemoans the fact that artists from the 75-year-old Shaver’s generation “ain’t wanted anymore” in a world in which mainstream country radio is dominated by pop-oriented younger acts.

On the recording, Shaver is joined by Willie Nelson, who also cut the song for his 2014 album, “Band of Brothers.” Notably, the two music legends performed the song together on “The Late Show with David Letterman” a few months ago.

Shaver, who will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, N.C., said he got the idea for the song while having a phone conversation with another singer-songwriter friend, Jackson Taylor.

“We were talking on the phone, and somehow I said, ‘You know, it’s hard to be an outlaw,’” Shaver said. “And he said, ‘Boy, you better write that.’ I can’t remember all the things we said, but I decided I would write it.

“And, so, I texted the title to Willie — me and Willie are pretty much the only ones over 70 that text — and he said, ‘You better write that quick.’ And I thought, ‘Oh (expletive), he’s gonna write it if I don’t.’ So, I jumped on it and wrote it.”

Billy Joe is performing in Ashville, NC on Friday, April 17th:

Want to go?

Who: Billy Joe Shaver with Caleb Caudle
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: The Grey Eagle, 185 Clingman Ave., Asheville, N.C.
Tickets: $17 in advance and $20 day of show
Info: 828-232-5800 or

Read entire article and interview here:

Willie Nelson featured in PBS “American Epic” television series

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015


Two British filmmakers, Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty, and American Producer Duke Erikson have pieced together this extraordinary story set in the late 1920s when record companies toured America with a recording machine and for the first time captured the raw expression of an emerging culture. It democratized music and gave a voice to the poorest in the nation.

The filmmakers follow the machine’s trail across the United States to rediscover the families whose music was recorded by it, music that would lead to the development of blues, country, gospel, Hawaiian, Cajun and folk music – without which there would be no rock, pop, R&B or hip hop today. Over three episodes the remarkable lives of these seminal musicians are revealed through previously unseen film footage, unpublished photographs, and exclusive interviews with some of the last living witnesses to that era, when the musical strands of a diverse nation first emerged, sparking a cultural revolution whose reverberations are felt to this day.

For AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS the filmmakers have re-assembled the machine that allowed America to first hear itself. They have replicated the atmosphere of America’s seminal 1920s field recordings down to the smallest detail, with top American artists recording straight to wax, using all the original microphones, amplifiers, and other equipment from that era. This is the first time that any performer has been able to use this machinery for over 80 years. Led by producers Jack White and T Bone Burnett, today’s legends are given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to relive the experience of the founding mothers and fathers, their idols, and remake the music that changed America and changed the world.

The AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS features performances by Alabama Shakes, The Americans, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Frank Fairfield, Ana Gabriel, Rhiannon Giddens, Merle Haggard, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Auntie Geri Kuhia, Pokey LaFarge, Bettye LaVette, Los Lobos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Taj Mahal, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, Fred Martin & The Levite Camp, Ashley Monroe, Nas, Willie Nelson, Charlie Kaleo Oyama, Blind Boy Paxton, Raphael Saadiq, and Jack White

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard album, “Django and Jimmie” to be released June 2nd! (But you can pre-order it now)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015


Merle Haggard’s and Willie Nelson’s new collaboration album ‘Django & Jimmie’ features 14 new studio tracks and it comes out on June 2nd. Pre-order it on Amazon Music.

Helmed by Nelson’s longtime producer, collaborator and friend Buddy Cannon, Django and Jimmie premieres 14 brand-new studio recordings including: “Django and Jimmie,” a dual tribute to jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers, country music’s mythic “Singing Brakeman”; the reflective and meditative “Live This Long”; “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash,” an homage to country music’s original Man in Black featuring guest vocals from Bobby Bare; a sublime interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”; and the future outlaw country classic “Unfair Weather Friend,” written by rising songsmiths Marla Cannon-Goodman (Buddy Cannon’s daughter) and Ward Davis.

A legendary country music producer and songwriter in his own right, Buddy helped pen five of the album’s tracks, including “It’s All Going To Pot” (a rollicking anthem for the emerging 21st century cannabis culture) and four cowrites with Willie: “Alice In Hulaland,” “It’s Only Money,” “Where Dreams Come To Die,” and “Driving The Herd.”

Among the 14 essential recordings on Django and Jimmie, Nelson and Haggard each pay musical tribute to the other through heartfelt solo performances: Willie singing Merle’s “Somewhere Between” and Merle covering Willie’s “Family Bible.”

You can pre-order your copy here:

Willie Nelson and Leon Russell, “The Early Years” DVD

Monday, April 13th, 2015


Willie Nelson and Leon featured in DVD of collection of their hits, from concerts in the 1970’s.

Heartbreak Hotel
Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away
White Lightning
Life and Love
My Cricket (And Me)
Trouble In Mind
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
It’s Not Supposed To Be That Way

Snoop Dogg, “My Medicine” featuring Willie Nelson

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Willie Nelson album, “Peace in the Valley” re-released

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Promised Land Music Peace in the Valley


“Peace in the Valley”, with the art of Robert MacDonald

Promised Land Music is re-releasing Willie Nelson Peace in the Value album, originally released in 1994.  Visit their website for great photos and more stories about Willie Nelson, and his music.

Track List:
Dreaming of a Little Cabin
Family Bible
You Can’t Have Your Hate and Jesus Too
My Body’s Just a Suitcase For My Soul
I saw the Light
In God’s Eyes
A Beautiful LIfe
Kneel at the Feet of Jesus
Peace in the Valley.


Willie’s Deep Gospel Roots

Willie’s roots in gospel music go back to his childhood. In fact, his first public performance was delivering a short poem at a Methodist gospel picnic at age four in his home town of Abbott, Texas.

“I don’t ever remember not playing and singing gospel music,” Willie recalls. “My grandparents were music teachers and they were gospel singers. The first music that I heard was gospel music, so it’s not that unusual that I would be so much into it.”

Born in Abbott, Texas, in 1933, Willie was raised in a rich musical setting. Besides learning gospel music from his grandparents, he learned blues from local black farm workers, and pop, country, and jazz on the radio.



The PEACE IN THE VALLEY album got its start in 1987, as a Billy Nelson project. Billy loved gospel music and wanted to be a gospel singer. He wasn’t aspiring to be a superstar. He just wanted to do his music.

At a gospel music concert that year in Dayton, Ohio, Billy joined his dad on stage for a couple of songs, including Family Bible.
From there, the gospel album evolved slowly. Billy recorded two songs, Family Bible and In God’s Eyes, and Willie became more involved with the project, eventually recording enough songs for three albums.

“I was doing an album with Billy, my son, in Nashville. We didn’t know how it was going to turn out and really what we were going to do with it when we got through, but the guys sounded so great,” he says, of the musicians and singers whose voices are an integral part of the album’s full gospel sound – especially on the a Capella tracks like “Dreaming of A Little Cabin,” “A Beautiful Life,” and the Hank Williams classic “I Saw The Light.”

“I hadn’t heard a group of singers that close to traditional gospel harmony in so many years that I was very impressed and still am very impressed with those guys,” Willie says. “It just turned out so well.”

“Any good song to me is a gospel. ‘Stardust is a gospel tune as far as I’m concerned, and so is Amazing Grace,” he says, “The melody and the words are there and they reach across all the boundaries.”

It was during this time that Mae Axton encountered another Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson, Jr. (Billy).  Billy had heard a song she wrote entitled My Body’s Just a Suitcase for My Soul, and fell in love with it. Axton wrote the song after an emotional visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. “I just picked up a pad and started writing. It was almost as quick as Heartbreak Hotel. I just wrote my thoughts.” The song is written from the perspective of a surviving Vietnam veteran. “I didn’t want him to be dead. I wanted someone to live and to cope, and to say something about this.”

Although her initial desire was for Willie to sing the song , Axton was thrilled to hear Billy’s voice bring her words to life.  She was in the studio when Billy recorded it, and got emotional when talking about the first video of the song, “Seeing Billy and how beautiful he did it, half talking and half singing, and the scenes that were put with it. It was the vision I had when I wrote it.”

The original music video for My Body’s Just a Suitcase for My Soul is being reedited and updated for a May 2015 release. It features concert footage of Willie and Billy performing together, as well as video shot in the studio of Billy recording the song. The performance and recording video footage is edited with Vietnam War archival footage and other scenes filmed to meaningfully express the song’s deep message.

By 1991, the Family Bible Project (as it was then being called) had grown into a mix of gospel standards and newer songs written by Willie and others – enough songs for nearly three albums.  Tragically, Billy died on Christmas Eve 1991.

Seeing the Light

PEACE IN THE VALLEY might have seen the light of day earlier, had the Internal Revenue Service not confiscated most of Willie’s earthly possessions back in 1991 during Willie’s well-known tax troubles.

By the fall of 1992, however, Willie was making amends with the IRS, and they began returning his possessions, among them the Family Bible Project tapes.


Robert MacDonald, Jr., Willie Nelson, Grant Boatwright

In 1993, at Willie’s request, producers Robert MacDonald, Jr. and Grant Boatwright met with Willie in Texas to discuss the potential future of the project. After several more meetings and kicking around various ideas, Promised Land Music was established in Nashville as the label for the album. MacDonald and Boatwright selected 10 songs and began mixing and then mastering the album.

The album was release in 1994 receiving much praise and positive reviews. It also was awarded Gospel Album of The Year by the ICMGA.

Promised Land Music Willie Nelson 

The Making of “We Are the World”

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Willie Nelson to be featured in PBS/BBC documentary “American Pie” produced by Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett, Jack White

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Day One Press Conference - 2015 Sundance Film Festival

PBS and BBC Arena are teaming for American Pie,  a three-part documentary series and feature-length film that trace an era when the music of ordinary citizens was recorded for the first time across America. Executive produced by T Bone Burnett, Robert Redford and Jack White, it will air in the U.S. and the UK this fall, culminating in a studio session featuring such contemporary and roots-music greats as Beck, Nas, Willie Nelson and Taj Mahal.

Willie Nelson and Dyan Cannon, “Two Sides to Every Story”

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie, “December Day” (with liner notes by Mickey Raphael)

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie
“December Day”

Liner Notes by Mickey Raphael:

Peering through the control room glass into the studio, a cloud of smoke rises from Sister Bobbie Nelson’s Bosendorfer grand piano. After four hours of non-stop recording with baby brother Willie, perhaps she has ignited the keys during this marathon session???

Listening back to “I Never Cared for You,” the interplay between Bobbie and Will on the instrumental intro “Ou-es tu, mon amour” sets the mood perfectly for the darkness the song portrays.

“Nuages,” a song written by French Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, showcases Willie’s dexterity and guitar genius.  Whenever we are just sitting around the bus, Willie will pick up a guitar and start playing.  Like the horse heading to the barn, he always gets around to “Nuages.”  It’s good mendicine for him.  And on this take, Bobbie’s piano provides the support that makes their performances seem effortless.

In the beautiful hill country near Austin, Texas you’ll find Willie’s Pedernales studio.  Willie and Bobbie are set up in the main room which is L-shaped and doesn’t allow direct eye contact during recording.  Without much discussion of an arrangement, Bobbie started playing and Willie began singing “Mona Lisa.”  That was the beginning of another magical session.

Recording engineer Steve Chadie and Willie’s friend and producer, Buddy Cannon were at the controls as it all happened. It’s kind of like photographing a ghost; you don’t really see it till the picture is fully developed.  Throughout these sessions Bobbie and Willie played continuously and seemed to never run out of song ideas — which is a producer’s dream (or nightmare).  Eventually songs had to be picked for the final selections.  With so many outstanding performances to choose from.  I’m glad I wasn’t a part of that process.

As long as I can remember.  Willie and Bobbie, who ride together on Willie’s bus, spend some of their traveling time jamming on their favorite songs.  Bobbie has a travels size keyboard on the bus and Willie’s guitar, Trigger, is always by his side.  This is where the idea for DECEMBER DAY was born.  “Why not record our favorite songs like we play them for ourselves?”  Bobbie asked.

In 2010 after ending a tour in Austin, Texas, the band, made up of Paul and Billy English, Bee Spears and myself, went in the studio to record with Bobbie and Willie.  The song “What’ll I do” is especially bittersweet because of the passing of Bee Speers.  Bee was Willie’s bass player for more than four decades and this was the last recording session he played with us.  He is missed by us all.

In 2012 while recording songs for the record LET’S FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE, we would stray from the song list every once in a while.  Willie might call out a song title or Bobbie might have a suggestion and this was the fun part of recording with these guys.  You didn’t know where the music was going next.  “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” was born from such a diversion.  We are all fans of the Irving Berlin songbook and of the Ray Charles version, so this was a perfect tribute to both.

In 2004, another impromptu visit to the studio resulted in three songs penned by Willie.  “Walkin'” is truly a classic.  Originally heard in the concept album PHASES AND STAGES, this version goes right to the heart.  Willie’s guitar solo hits you like a gunshot at the O.K. Corral.  If through is the question, then Bobbie is the answer as nothing rings more true than her piano.

“Laws of Nature” is an “a-ha” moment.  Willie writes like he’s talking to you face-to-face.  Bobbie provides the soundtrack for that conversation.  It’s easy to make records with these guys.  You just have to listen… and then  react from the heart.  It’s pretty primal.

The song “Amnesia” rounded out those sessions but honestly, I can’t remember anything about it.

Raised by their grandparents in Abbott, a small farming community north of Waco, Texas, Willie and Bobbie began a musical odyssey that has continued for over 70 years.  Daddy Nelson taught Willie how to play guitar when he was seven, and momma Nelson taught sister Bobbie the piano when she was nine.  Sundays were spent playing at the Abbott Methodist church and gave Bobbie and Willie the spiritual foundation that still can be found in their music.

When it comes to a brother-sister collaboration with the longevity of Willie and Bobbie, there is beauty in keeping things simple, “Less is more” is the underlying theme.  We’ve heard these songs before but not like this.  The spontaneity born out of familiarity is what this record, DECEMBER DAY is all about.

It’s not rocket science.  It’s alchemy.

Mickey Raphael
Nashville, TN


Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie
December Day
(Willie’s Stash, Vol. 1)

1. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Irving Berlin)
2. Permanently Lonely (Willie Nelson)
3. What’ll I Do (Irving Berlin)
4. Summer of Roses / December Day (Willie Nelson)
5. Nuages (Django Reinhardt)
6. Mona Lisa (Ray Evans & Jay Livingston)
7. I Don’t Know Where I Am Today (Willie Nelson)
8. Amnesia (Willie Nelson)
9. Who’ll Buy My Memories (Willie Nelson)
10. The Anniversary Song (Al Jolson & Saul Chaplin)
11. Laws of Nature (Willie Nelson)
12. Walkin’ (Willie Nelson)
13. Always (Irving Berlin)
14. I Let My Mind Wander (Willie Nelson)
15. Is the Better Part Over (Willie Nelson)
16. My Own Peculiar Way (Willie Nelson)
17. Sad Songs and Waltzes (Willie Nelson)

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, Whitewater Amphitheater, New Braunsfel, TX (Mar. 26, 27, 28)

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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What a treat, three nights of Willie Nelson and Family, Paula Nelson, and Merle Haggard. Three nights of any one of them would be great, but to get three nights of all that great music was an experience I won’t forget.

There was so much love in the air. The shows were sold out every night, the venue packed with fans who jumped on tickets last November to see these legends. WN&F and Merle Haggard and the Strangers played complete shows each night, and Merle came out and played guitar and sang during Willie’s set. Then, on Saturday night, Willie came out and played with the Strangers, and he and Merle performed songs from the album that they are working on together. Can’t wait for the album!

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New Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard Album

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Django and Jimmie

by:  Carrie Horton

Two of country music’s biggest icons are teaming up (again) for a brand new album. Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson are set to release a brand new collaborative effort, Django and Jimmie, which will be their fourth studio record together.

Nelson visited Jimmy Kimmel Live as part of a series of events with South by Southwest (SXSW) last Friday (March 21), and it was there that — in between jokes about one of his favorite pastimes (Hint: it involves smoke and some illegal activity) — the Red Headed Stranger announced his latest album with Haggard.

While there’s no news of the album’s release date, Nelson did tell host Jimmy Kimmel that the first single will be released on April 20. It’s a date that matches up with that favorite pastime of Nelson’s, not to mention key lyrics from new track.

“It’s all going to pot, whether we like it or not,” Nelson sings in the interview clip. “As far as I can tell the world’s gone to hell, and we’re sure gonna miss it a lot. All of the whiskey in Lynchburg, Tenn. just couldn’t hit the spot. I’ve got $100 bill you can keep them pills friend ’cause it’s all going to pot.”

Well, we know what at least one of the new songs is about, and while details related to the theme of the rest of the album haven’t yet been revealed, fans of Haggard and Nelson will know what the title means. French guitar player Django Reinhardt is a longtime muse of Nelson, with the country singer citing Reinhardt as an inspiration for the tone of his famous guitar, Trigger, and covering his song “Nuages” many times during his decades-long career. As for the “Jimmie” part ofDjango and Jimmie, it likely refers to Haggard’s love of country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers, whom he paid homage to with a 1969 tribute album, Same Train, A Different Time.

Haggard has also expressed excitement about the album recently, noting that it follows he and Nelson’s 1983 release Pancho & Lefty, their 1987 collaboration, Seashores of Old Mexico and their 2007 album, Last of the Breed, which was also in partnership with Ray Price.

“It’s really good; I think it’s the best one we’ve done,” says Haggard of the new record. “We didn’t really do any swing, per se, we just did straight-ahead songs that we felt good about.”


This day in Willie Nelson history: “Half Nelson” awarded Gold Album status

Monday, April 6th, 2015


On April 6, 1987, Willie Nelson received a gold album for his duets compilation, “Half Nelson”.

Track List:

1. “Pancho and Lefty”, with Merle Haggard
2. “Slow Movin’ Outlaw”, withLacy J. Dalton
3. “Are There Any More Real Cowboys?”, with Neil Young
4. “I Told a Lie to My Heart”, with Hank Williams
5. “Texas on a Saturday Night”, with Mel Tillis
6. “Seven Spanish Angels” Ray Charles
7. “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, with Julio Iglesias
8. “They All Went To Mexico, with Carlos Santana
10. “Half a Man”, with George Jones

This is one of the songs from the album.  You can listen to all the great duets here: