Archive for the ‘Duets and collaborations’ Category

Willie Nelson, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Somora, “Always on My Mind”

Thursday, July 30th, 2015
by: Stephen V. Betts

Willie Nelson has always relied on the kindness of his many celebrity friends, whether it’s to perform at the annual Farm Aid concerts or to share a duet with him on the seemingly endless string of LPs he has released throughout his 82 years. In April of 2002, several of those musical family members gathered at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for an informal tribute to the American treasure, with the eclectic lineup including Keith Richards, Sheryl Crow, Brian McKnight, Ryan Adams, Ray Price, Nora Jones and Dave Matthews.

In addition to all-star performances of some of the Red Headed Stranger’s most iconic tunes, the special also celebrated the release of Nelson’s The Great Divide, the 2002 LP that included several collaborations and featured three songs penned by Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas, who duets with Nelson on “Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me),” which became a minor country hit. The more well-known release from the album was the Bernie Taupin and Matt Serletic-penned “Mendocino County Line,” a duet with Lee Ann Womack which made the Top Forty, becoming his first country hit to do so in 12 years. The tune would go on to win a CMA award for Vocal Event of the Year and the Grammy for Best Country Collaboration, and Womack joined Nelson and the house band to perform it during the special.

One of the most dramatic renditions of the night was of Nelson’s massive pop-country hit, “Always on My Mind,” which featured Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Coming four years before Bon Jovi would top the country charts with Jennifer Nettles on “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” the TV show performance featured Bon Jovi, sporting a cowboy hat, taking the first verse and delivering a somber vocal as Sambora and Nelson harmonize. The country great then steps up for the second verse, strumming his faithful guitar, Trigger, and putting his distinctive vocal spin on the song that won him a Grammy and a CMA award.

“Always on My Mind,” penned by Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson, who died July 20th, was also famously recorded by Elvis Presley, the Pet Shop Boys and many others. In 2013, Nelson revisited the track for his duets LP, To All the Girls…, recording it with Carrie Underwood.

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Rest in Peace, Buddy Emmons

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Willie Nelson and Buddy Emmons wrote, “Are You Sure ” together.
by:  Julie Thanki

Pedal steel guitar innovator Buddy Emmons has died at the age of 78. Nicknamed “The Big E” for his height, Mr. Emmons, a member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, played with some of country music’s finest, including Little Jimmy Dickens, Ernest Tubb and Ray Price, and his work forever changed the genre. The number of musicians he influenced over the past half-century is immeasurable.

“Buddy Emmons was truly a musical genius,” says Eddie Stubbs, WSM DJ and “Grand Ole Opry” announcer. “He had an unbelievable gift and was so forward thinking. He was placed here at a pivotal time, when the pedal steel guitar was a relatively new instrument. He took it to another level and expanded (the instrument’s) boundaries.”

Buddy Gene Emmons was born on Jan. 27, 1937, in Mishawka, Ind. His father bought him his first lap steel guitar at the age of 11, and the young boy quickly took to the instrument. Soon his parents noticed his musical aptitude and bought him a triple-neck steel guitar.

At 16, Mr. Emmons dropped out of school, then moved to Detroit to play in Casey Clark’s band. It was in this city that country music star Little Jimmy Dickens discovered him in the summer of 1955; by the July Fourth weekend of that year, Mr. Emmons was making his “Grand Ole Opry” debut as part of Dickens’ backing band, the Country Boys. With Mr. Emmons and guitarists Spider Wilson and Howard Rhoten, the band “reached its zenith,” Stubbs said after Wilson’s death in March.

In 1956, Dickens dissolved his band, and Mr. Emmons found a job as part of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours. His crying pedal steel licks were an integral element of songs such as Tubb’s 1958 hit single “Half a Mind.”

Not only was Mr. Emmons a stunning musician, he also was a remarkable innovator, and would frequently tinker with his steel guitars, experimenting with different tunings and pioneering the split-pedal setup, which can be heard on “Half a Mind.” Mr. Emmons and musician Shot Jackson formed the Sho-Bud Guitar Co. in 1956. Less than a decade later, he’d leave Sho-Bud and create the Emmons Guitar Co. with Ron Lashley.

Mr. Emmons also was a talented songwriter. He and Willie Nelson co-wrote “Are You Sure”; this song was recently recorded by Kacey Musgraves for her 2015 album, “Pageant Material.” He recorded several solo albums over the course of his career as well. His 1963 release “Steel Guitar Jazz” was the first jazz record featuring pedal steel. He’d later join forces with Ray Pennington to form the Swing Shift Band; they’d release a handful of records together.

He’d return to Nashville in the mid-‘70s and would continue doing session work for some of country music’s top artists through the 1980s and ‘90s, including George Strait, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood and John Anderson. In the late 1980s, he also accepted an offer to tour with the Everly Brothers, and he’d remain with them for 12 years.

Mr. Emmons retired from music after the death of his wife, Peggy, in 2007, whom he had married in 1967.

Willie Nelson and Ray Price, “Run That By Me One More Time”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, “Mountain Dew”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015


Willie Nelson and Norah Jones, “Lonestar” (Farm Aid 25)

Friday, July 24th, 2015

From DirecTV’s broadcast of Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America, Norah Jones performs “Lonestar” with Willie Nelson at Miller Park in Milwaukee on October 2, 2010. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers.

Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, “Two Men With the Blues” (2008)

Monday, July 20th, 2015


On January 8, 2008, Blue Note Records released, “Two Men With the Blues”.

Willie Nelson – vocals and guitar Wynton Marsalis – trumpet and vocals Mickey Raphael – harmonica Walter Blanding – saxophone Dan Nimmer – piano Carlos Henriquez – bass Ali Jackson Jr. – drums

“These songs, heard this way with this group—that’s never been done before. Whatever I’m doing, if you put Wynton and these guys around it, that brings it up to a different level.” – Willie Nelson

A first-time collaboration between two American icons, Willie & Wynton discover common ground in their love of jazz standards & the blues on this sparkling set that brims with spontaneity, congeniality & fun.

Wynton wears crisp suits, reads sheet music and is the musical director of New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. Willie wears crumpled jeans, wings it onstage and runs his concert venue, Willie’s Place, out of a truck stop in Abbott, Texas.

So what exactly do these music legends have in common? The blues, of course. Wynton Marsalis, 46, and Willie Nelson, 75, are the two men on the new CD “Two Men With the Blues,” a live recording culled from two concerts they played at Lincoln Center last year.

“I like playing with Wynton,” says Nelson, “because you know the piano player won’t show up drunk, and whatever comes out of it, it’ll be worth the listen.” They are playing venues including the Hollywood Bowl and “The Tonight Show” between breaks on Nelson’s tour and Marsalis’s Lincoln Center duties. Recently, the two chatted with NEWSWEEK’s Lorraine Ali in Nelson’s second home—his airbrushed, tricked-out tour bus:

ALI: Your collaboration has been described as “a summit meeting between two American icons.”

NELSON: I like the way they put that.

MARSALIS: I’m not an icon, he is.

NELSON: I thought an icon was one of those things on your computer screen. I’m not one of those.

MARSALIS: OK, I say this modestly—this is a historic event. It’s not a big surprise to have Wynton and Willie playing together, but to have this much attention for it, that’s a surprise.

But the attention makes sense: both of you are highly respected, and Willie, you can’t go anywhere without being recognized. NELSON: I’m offended if I don’t get recognized. I say, “Hey, man, don’t you know who I am? Perhaps you didn’t realize.”

MARSALIS: My son always says, “I want to repudiate you, Dad, but nobody knows who you are. When I have to explain who I’m repudiating, it’s not really worth it.”

Willie, I imagine you as an off-the-cuff player, but with Wynton, there’s the whole issue of keeping time. Is that a problem?

NELSON: Well, it’s a little different than when we just go up there and wing it for four hours and play requests. This has to be exactly right, especially because Wynton and the guys are reading off pieces of paper, and I’m just up there trying to remember words. These guys have a lot more to do and think about than I do. For me, it’s a free ride on top of their rhythm and rockin’.

MARSALIS: He’ll come in with a phrase, and we’ll think, “Uh-oh, he ain’t gonna make it fit.” And then he’ll collect it on the back end. It’s like somebody jukin’ or fakin’ on a basketball court. They take you this way, then come back that way. He’ll come in perfectly on key, on time, and we’re, like, “Damn!” It’s so natural and true.

Do you see yourself as an odd couple?

MARSALIS: No. As musicians, we like a lot of the same things.

NELSON:Â Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia.”

MARSALIS: Yeah, that’s right, or “Saturday Night Fish Fry.” See, we came up on the same sounds

Music aside, personality-wise, how is it working together? Is one of you…

NELSON: On drugs?

That’s not exactly where I was going.

MARSALIS: We really follow each other. I think we’re gracious that way. There’s no crazy soloing over one another.

NELSON: We [Nelson and his harmonica player] can’t play anything more than they [Marsalis and his quartet] can play. There’s only so many chords, and they know ‘em better than we do. Honestly, I don’t read music that well. Or I don’t read well enough to hurt my playing, as the old joke goes.

MARSALIS: And it’s not like we need to translate. We’re coming from the same American experience. The songs he picked to play,”Bright Lights, Big City,” “Basin Street Blues”we don’t need an arrangement for those. The grooves we play are shuffle grooves, swing. We grew up playing that music. There wasn’t one time where we had to stop and say, “Willie, what do you mean?” We are together.

NELSON: Even though some of us may not look all that together.

I heard you two barely rehearse.

MARSALIS: Willie doesn’t do two or three takes. Just once, and then, “That’s good, gentlemen.” That’s how we play. We record live.

NELSON: If you can play, then what do you want to rehearse for? Just play.

Willie, you still tour like mad. How different are the shows with Wynton?

NELSON: Honestly, it’s a lot easier for me to come out and work with Wynton and his guys, because in my shows I’ll go out and play for two hours or more. With Wynton, they’ve already played for an hour and a half before I come out. I come out and do the last 30 minutes, and all of a sudden I’ve had a great night.

Wynton, was there any sort of intimidation factor in working with a legend like Willie?

MARSALIS: I’ve been around musicians all my life. My daddy was a musician, and we played all kind of gigs. I played with philharmonic orchestras when I was 22 years old. That’s intimidating! This man is natural. He makes you feel at home. When he comes to rehearsal, there’s not 65 people around him, scurrying to make it all right.

NELSON: Send in the dogs to clear the place out first.

MARSALIS: It’s not like that. He’s very approachable.

NELSON: We used to work in clubs where we had to build up the crowd. We’d hop from table to table, have a drink with everybody, hoping they’d show up tomorrow night. By the time you made your rounds you’re about half drunk.

MARSALIS: How could you not love this man?

Willie Nelson continues to thrive

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's new album, Django And Jimmie, comes out June 2
by:  Paul De Barros

When Willie Nelson sings, “We’d have taken better care of ourselves if we’d known we were going to live this long” on his new collaboration with Merle Haggard, it resonates. Not only has the 82-year-old master of American song survived a recent Internet hoax that put him 6 feet under, but he has also burst into late bloom with two first-rate albums during the past year.Last summer’s Band of Brothers — the title track is an ode to the solidarity of outlaws — featured nine new songs, more than any of his albums since Spirit (1996). Band of Brothers reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. As well it should have.From the hard-charging dare of Bring It On to the contemplative Guitar in the Corner, which offers songwriting as a metaphor for life and love, Nelson — like Picasso was at the same age — is as creative as ever. And Nelson hasn’t lost his sense of humor, as evidenced by the sarcastic I Thought I Left You (“You’re like the measles .?.?. I’ve already had you”) and the facetious novelty number Wives and Girlfriends.

Last month, Nelson hit another high with Django and Jimmie, a collaboration with Haggard that sounds like two wise and wily old men shooting the breeze on the porch. A tribute to hot-jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and “the singing brakeman” Jimmie Rogers, the album features a nod to Johnny Cash in which Nelson recalls a caper that involved Cash having a casket brought to his hotel room, climbing inside and calling room service.

There’s also the tongue-in-cheek It’s All Going to Pot and a sparkling, up-tempo version of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right that highlights the hurt over the meanness in that durable lyric in a way its author never managed.

Willie Nelson and Friends honor Waylon Jennings in Austin (July

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

by: John T. Davis

West Texas-born country rocker Waylon Jennings, who died in 2002, has never enjoyed the kind of iconic posthumous reverence that has attached itself to Johnny Cash or the ongoing beatification that Willie Nelson enjoys. His legacy and music have, to some extent, fallen through the cracks.

But “Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings,” an all-star tribute show held Monday night at ACL Live, may mark the beginning of a long-overdue re-evaluation of a singer, guitarist and songwriter whose shadow stretched from Buddy Holly’s 1950s heyday to the hit-making cauldron of country, rock, blues and folk music that was “outlaw” or “progressive country” music in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Filmed for eventual broadcast and curated by Don Was (who performed similar honors for Willie’s 60th birthday celebration) and Nashville producer Buddy Cannon, the show featured an appealing blend of veterans who came up alongside Jennings and younger artists attesting to his influence.

And that influence remains profound, if under appreciated. With his dark, almost brooding presence, a booming baritone singing voice and a signature Telecaster chicken-scratch guitar style, along with a notoriously contrary approach to Nashville’s 1970s-era business as usual, Jennings embodied the rebellious, no-bullshit spirit of a rowdy, Texas-centric country-rock counterpoint to Music City that endures and even thrives to this day.

The sweep of performers was your basic head-turning array, beginning with Bobby Bare, who discovered Jennings singing in a Phoenix, Ariz., nightclub in the 1960s and ending, as only it could, with Jennings’ lifelong partner-in-crime, Willie Nelson.

Texas stars in the form of Robert Earl Keen and Ryan Bingham shared the limelight with Nashville big shots like Toby Keith and Eric Church. A grizzled but still vibrant Kris Kristofferson served as counterpoint to a youthful — and equally vibrant— Sturgill Simpson. And then there was family — Jennings’ wife and duet partner Jessi Colter and his son, Shooter Jennings.

Show topping hits (a snarling, Bo Diddley-flavored take on “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” by Keen, Keith’s swaggering “Honky Tonk Heroes,” Kacey Musgraves’ delicately rendered “The Wurlitzer Prize”) and deep cuts, including 1968’s “Yours Love,” performed by Lee Ann Womack and Buddy Miller, and a moving take on Shel Siverstein’s folk-flavored “Whistlers and Jugglers” by Shooter Jennings (who was visibly moved throughout the night).

There were more than a few standouts, most notably Alison Krauss’ luminous, magisterial performance of “Dreaming My Dreams,” the Kristofferson/Colter duet “Storms Never Last” (their ragged harmonies notwithstanding) and Sturgill Simpson’s spot-on take of the heart-tugging “Memories of You and I.”

The last quarter of the evening was basically the Willie Nelson Show, which began with a moving solo rendition of Rodney Crowell’s “Til I Gain Control Again” and proceeded through a series of duet partners that included Keith (“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”), Chris Stapleton (“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”), Bare (“Good-Hearted Woman”), Simpson (“I Can Get Off On You”), Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and Shooter Jennings (“Highwayman”) and the all-hands-on-deck set closer, “Luckenbach, Texas.”

“We’re without him, but this is about him,” Jessi Colter said early on, and when one surveys the generally dismal condition of mainstream country music, with its “bro country” bromides and watered-down pop pap, one is left to conclude that now, as it was during his heyday, there’s nothing wrong with Nashville that a big dose of Waylon Jennings couldn’t fix.

Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves film movie video at Austin Bar

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

by: Chad Swiatecki

Country star Willie Nelson and up-and-comer Kacey Musgraves are the latest musicians to use the popular White Horse country bar in East Austin as the location for a video shoot.

Nelson and Musgraves booked the bar for a video for Musgraves’ new song “Dime Store Cowgirl” on July 3, one day before the pair played Nelson’s packed July 4 Picnic at Circuit of The Americas, shooting from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.

White Horse co-owner Denis O’Donnell said the bar gets solicited for filming and branded promotional use about once per quarter, with rental rates varying based on the size of the client.

Brands such as Marlboro and Volkswagen wind up paying top dollar, O’Donnell said, since those shoots are typically for well-funded national advertising campaigns but declined to say how much those rentals brought in. Those filming days add more revenue to what is already a healthy bottom line, with the Texas comptroller’s office records showing that in most months the White Horse generates between $170,000 and $200,000 per months in liquor sales.
O’Donnell said he negotiated a $2,000 fee for the Nelson/Musgraves shoot and said for independent and local acts he only charges the hourly pay for bar staff required to keep the business open during filming.

“I think we’re more of a genuine place that seems more cool and natural and some of that comes from Austin not having the monolithic success in country music of a place like Nashville,” O’Donnell said. “We’re not seen as the kingmakers.”


While the business banked some cash for the long shoot day, O’Donnell said as a life-long country fan he realizes the longer-term impact of having Nelson associated with his bar in an upcoming video.

Said O’Donnell, “Willie can take the White Horse brand and do with it whatever he wants.”

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

by:  Holly Gleason

“Everybody wants to be wilder than it’s accepted to be,” Merle Haggard, raggedy growl tempered with warmth, says without ceremony. “They wanna do and be more than people think is right. You know that saying ‘Well behaved women seldom make history’? It’s not just for women, you know.”

It’s afternoon in Lake Shasta, Calif., and Haggard has been kept twice as long by reporters as he was supposed to be. But the cantankerous legend is in a joyous mood, and he’s willing to ponder his reputation in light of Django & Jimmie, his duo project with Willie Nelson that hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums and No. 7 on the Top 200 Albums charts.

“Well-behaved men?” asks Haggard incredulously. “Never been around ’em. Step out of line, you’ll be remembered because you stood out! Though as old as I am, it’s hard to step anywhere, let alone out.”

Haggard laughs a dust cloud of red dirt, hard life and light. It rolls down the phone line like a tumble weed. Cagey even at 78, he’s not beyond a joke, even if it’s on him.

Of course, he and Nelson weren’t afraid to mix it up a little, leveraging their elder status to drop “It’s All Going To Pot” back in April. The song, as much social commentary as an endorsement of smoking dope over other highs, is a frolic that uses common sense and humor to make points beyond the obvious.

“That’s one of those [songs] you just know people are going to love,” Nelson says with a chuckle from his bus somewhere in Idaho a few weeks later. “I’m surprised how fast medical marijuana is going, and decriminalization…People are figuring out it isn’t going away, I guess.

“Plus there’s a whole lot of money those bottom-liners can pick up, and that works for some people. Colorado’s doing very well and showing the rest of the country how this can go. Other parts of the world are more evolved and handle it, like Israel and Copenhagen…Here we’re a little dumber, a little more redneck in our attitudes. There are medical benefits, everything else.”

Haggard, more hardcore honky tonk to Nelson’s zen country, is even more direct: “I like the insinuation of giving up pills and giving up whiskey, that stuff. The financial aspects of the alcohol industry, the Valium and Diazepam people, that’s big business. But Grandma doesn’t get whipped and the little girl doesn’t get molested when people are high.

“And now that people are seeing the industrial reality? The monetary implications are immense.”

But beyond the clever Buddy Cannon/Shawn Camp/Jamey Johnson song, there’s much more to their collaborating. Having recorded five albums together over 50 years, including 1983’s No. 1 Pancho & Lefty, they tap a vein of creativity that brings out the best in each other. On Django & Jimmie, each covers one of the other’s classics: Haggard does “Family Bible” and Nelson roadhouses “Swinging Doors,” as well as a freewheeling take on Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”

“There are things that don’t get considered on our own,” Haggard explains. “We’re both writers and we have an excellent understanding of great songs, so when you bring us together, our focus isn’t on who wrote it, but what’s there and how does it work? Like a love song? We can sing it together. It’s about her, the woman you love, which is different than to her.”

Nelson concurs. “There’s a creative thing that happens. When you can do something with another person [like Haggard], something comes from that creative energy. It’s pretty simple like that: two people can make more music than one!”

And for all the classics and covers, it is the new songs like “Wilder,” “Where Dreams Go To Die” and “Unfair Weather Friend” that show both icons firing at the top of their creative game. The LP also captures the essence of the Man in Black in “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash” with guest vocals from Bobby Bare, Nelson’s shufflin’ blues on “It’s Only Money,” and the crux of Haggard and Nelson’s relationship on “The Only Man Wilder Than Me.”

Culling some of Nashville’s best players, employing Nelson’s longtime producer Buddy Cannon, and setting up in Austin, the pair decided to have fun and savor the songs. Though there are no plans for the future, they’re enjoying the moment just fine.

“I write a little bit every day,” Nelson says. “It may not be any good, but I write and I get it out. When there’s something to write I try to put it down…and it feels good.

“Here we are with a No. 1 record, and that’s inspiring. The idea people want to hear what you have to say. Especially since we’re not getting any AM or FM airplay, really. I wanna enjoy this one for a little bit, just enjoy it without moving on to the next thing.”

Additionally, Haggard offers, “I’d like to leave a legacy of something. I can picture the music in my heart…I think it’ll keep my legacy alive. You look at Gene Autrey and Lefty Frizzell, Bob Wills and Ernest Tubb, those people playing dance halls when America was still really alive, that lasts.

“Willie and I both started playing music and got our first jobs trying to be guitar players, not singers, not songwriters, not stars. So people like Django and Roy Nichols were important to us both. We chased the same heroes and it shows. It’s why it’s the perfect title song for the album.”

In the end, the music still matters to them—mixing it up with good players, taking their songs out on the road. Nelson acknowledges the power and the draw of what both men are known for.

“I think it keeps you young! Something that makes you sing along, clap your hands and jump up and down? Nothing else does that, and when you’re doing that, you’re feeling alive.”

Willie Nelson, June Carter Cash, “I Still Miss Someone”

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie”

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's new album, Django And Jimmie, comes out June 2

Merle Haggard: “They might not give us a grammy.”

Willie Nelson: “They’ll give us a crumby. They’ll throw us a crumb.”

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Willie Nelson sings on hidden track of Kacey Musgraves album, “Are You Sure”

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


by: Annie Reuter

Read entire article, listen to interview here.

Kacey Musgraves credits Willie Nelson as being a huge supporter. In fact, Nelson not only took Musgraves on tour with him last year, he even sings on a hidden track, “Are You Sure,” at the very end of the album.


The collaboration came about while she was on Nelson’s tour bus and asked him why he doesn’t play the song live anymore.

“He couldn’t believe I knew it,” she recalls of the song, which Nelson first recorded in the 1960s. “I just really loved it. It’s very honest and very country, [and] it’s a neat perspective. He seemingly pulled a guitar out of a cloud of smoke and started strumming. I was of course dying inside a little bit.”

Nelson told Musgraves that he’d love to sing on the track with her and even brought his iconic guitar Trigger to play on the song.

“It was meant to be a hidden track at the end. A little nugget for people who make it to the end of the record,” she says.

Just as much as her hidden track is a surprise for fans, it’s also something she cherishes.

“I had so much fun creating this record and wanted to convey a classic, even tone throughout the whole thing,” she concludes. “I hope the live spirit we wanted to capture came across.”

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, “Alice in Hululand”

Monday, June 29th, 2015
by: Chris Parton

Country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard team up for some pickin’ & grinnin’ in paradise in their new video for “Alice in Hulaland.” Filmed in Hawaii, Nelson’s home-away-from-the-road, the clip is filled with sunshine, sand and smiles from the pair of longtime buddies.

The track comes from their recent Number One album, Django and Jimmie — named after Nelson and Haggard’s respective musical heroes, jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers — and features a sound heavy on beachy steel guitar and carefree harmonica.

In the video, 82-year-old Nelson and 78-year-old Haggard relax with their acoustic guitars, looking totally at ease. Haggard even sports a pot-leaf-adorned hat, while Nelson — whose frame of mind needs no identifying symbols — kicks back in shades and a straw cowboy hat.

The lyrics to “Alice in Hulaland” are all about a sweet girl whom some might describe as a groupie. Naturally, the clip includes some pretty ladies, but it’s made to look more like an innocent home movie, not the pseudo peepshows that have become so common in modern country videos. Adding to the home-movie feel are scenes of beachfront shops and colorful locals, giving the impression that viewers might actually be getting a glimpse into what Nelson’s life on the green islands is really like.

After a pair of dates with Alison Krauss & Union Station this weekend, Nelson will adjourn to his home in Austin to prepare for his annual Fourth of July Picnic. Haggard is also on the bill, along with Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. Many of those same artists, led by Nelson, will participate in a July 6th tribute to Waylon Jennings, also in Austin.

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Willie Nelson, Tab Benoit, “Rainy Day Blues”

Monday, June 29th, 2015