I love this album.
by: Chris Parton
Country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard have made their way back to the top of the heap. Their duets album, Django and Jimmie, has debuted at Number One on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and in the Number Seven spot on the all-genre Billboard 200.
Produced by Buddy Cannon and featuring 14 brand new recordings, the album’s title is a reference to Nelson and Haggard’s heroes — jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and one of country’s first stars, Jimmie Rodgers.
“We’ve been talking about it for about 18 months,” Haggard told Rolling Stone Country about the project back in April. “We’ve been back and forth on the phone about what kind of song we needed to find, and we (even) wrote a couple of songs on the phone. When we got into the studio, it was probably three or four days, max.”
The longtime friends have famously worked together in the past, scoring another Number One album in 1983 with the classic Pancho and Lefty.
“It’s a mutual-admiration society with us,” Nelson said about collaborating with Haggard. “Merle’s one of the best. There’s not anyone out there that can beat him. Maybe Kris Kristofferson. But then you start running out of names.”
The album’s first single is “It’s All Going to Pot,” an obvious allusion to Nelson and Haggard’s well-known fondness for marijuana, but also a riff on current events. The song was written by Cannon, Jamey Johnson and Larry Shell. Haggard and Nelson wrote or co-wrote a combined total of eight of the new tracks.
Speaking with Rolling Stone Country in May, Nelson hinted that a tandem tour could be a possibility, depending on how the album was received.
“In fact, I was talking to some folks today — I was gonna see what they thought of making us do a tour of it when (the album) comes out,” Nelson said. “We ought to do whatever we can get — as many days as we need to, because I know it’s a good record. I think it might sell a couple.”
On June 2, 2015, “Django and Jimmie” by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, was released.
Thanks Phil Weisman for sending to me.
photo: Dan Schram
by: Spencer Griffith
Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Cary
Sunday, May 22, 2016
In early April, I called my mother and invited her to join me in mid-May to see Willie Nelson play at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre. “Sure! Who else is playing?” she asked, perhaps spoiled by Alison Krauss & Union Station providing stellar support when Nelson passed through the same venue two years ago.
Hearing my reply of Merle Haggard, she bluntly replied, “Oh. I thought he was dead.” I assured her that Haggard would be there, recent poor health notwithstanding. But it was just a matter of days until the country legend actually did pass. Mom, like usual, turned out to be right.
Sunday night, our date finally arrived. Filling the huge hole left in the bill by Merle’s death, Kris Kristofferson opened alongside Merle’s sons Ben and Noel Haggard, backed by The Strangers—the late Haggard’s backing band. For my mom, Kristofferson’s appearance was bittersweet; it seems her high school crush had somehow aged in the intervening forty-odd years. I was more focused on his voice, which—especially early in the set—was, well, rather haggard. The hour-long show followed a revue format, in which Kristofferson and each of the Haggard sons took turns on lead vocals, sprinkling some of Kristofferson’s best-known songs with plenty of Merle classics.
Having joined The Strangers on lead guitar at age fifteen—nearly a decade ago now—Ben, Merle’s youngest son, did an admirable job of filling his father’s role on those tunes, injecting them with youthful energy and recounting his dad’s wishes for him to carry on with The Strangers. Meanwhile, Noel—almost thirty years Ben’s senior—lent his rich baritone to “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” sounding every bit like a man who’d lived through plenty of the song’s broken-hearted nights. By the time Kristofferson led off “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” his voice had warmed up considerably, containing just the right amount of weariness for his sighing hit.
The crowd responded with a standing ovation. Ben thanked everyone for coming to celebrate his father’s music. Kristofferson wiped away tears. The set closed on an upbeat note, sandwiching Kristofferson’s gospel number “Why Me” between Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever” and a spirited singalong of “Okie from Muskogee.”
The emotional tribute to Merle carried over into Willie Nelson’s headlining set in a surprising way. Sure, Nelson may appear to be as weathered as his trusty guitar Trigger, but as a performer, he seems to be drinking from—or smoking something out of—the fountain of youth. Almost four years older than Haggard, Nelson carried on Sunday night as if he could do so forever—and it’d be easy to convince yourself of just that, had it not been for the too-fresh reminder of Merle’s mortality.
Across an hour and fifteen minutes, Nelson barreled through more than two dozen songs with hardly a pause, ripping off nimble runs on Trigger, perhaps none more impressive than on a cover of Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages.” Following along to whichever song title Nelson shouted out, The Family provided rocksteady rhythms, rousing harmonica solos, and barrelhouse piano fills. Willie remained the star, even when flanked by the backing vocals of fellow Highwayman Kristofferson. His voice sounded clear as a bell on timeless ballads like “Georgia on My Mind” and “Always On My Mind.”
Nelson seemed somehow ageless, as if defying what I’d told my mom a couple hours earlier during Kristofferson’s set—“You know we’re all getting older, mom.”
photo: Dan Schram
Kris Kristofferson with Ben Haggard and Noel Haggard & The Strangers setlist:
Shipwrecked in the Eighties (Kristofferson on lead vocals, duo performance with Scott Joss)
The Running Kind (Ben Haggard on lead vocals)
Heaven Was A Drink Of Wine (Ben Haggard on lead vocals)
Help Me Make It Through The Night (Kristofferson on lead vocals)
Me and Bobby McGee (Kristofferson on lead vocals)
I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink (Noel Haggard on lead vocals)
What Am I Gonna Do (With The Rest Of My Life) (Ben Haggard on lead vocals)
The Pilgrim, Chapter 33 (Kristofferson on lead vocals)
Working Man Blues (Ben & Noel Haggard on lead vocals)
Honky Tonk Night Time Man -> Folsom Prison Blues (Noel Haggard on lead vocals)
Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down (Kristofferson on lead vocals)
Ramblin’ Fever (Ben Haggard on lead vocals)
Why Me (Kristofferson on lead vocals)
Okie From Muskogee (Ben & Noel Haggard on lead vocals)
Willie Nelson & The Family setlist:
Still Is Still Moving To Me
Beer For My Horses
Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
It’s All Going To Pot
Good Hearted Woman
Funny How Time Slips Away -> Crazy -> Night Life -> Listen To The Blues
Me & Paul
If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time
Georgia On My Mind
Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
Hey Good Lookin’
Move It On Over
On The Road Again
Always On My Mind
Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die (with Kris Kristofferson on backing vocals)
I’ll Fly Away (with Kris Kristofferson on backing vocals)
The Party’s Over (with Kris Kristofferson on backing vocals)
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Willie Nelson & Family with special guests Kris Kristofferson and The Strangers featuring Ben and Noel Haggard honoring Merle Haggard
Join us for a special concert event honoring the late Merle Haggard with legendary musician Willie Nelson & Family plus a very special guest and another original Highwaymen, Kris Kristofferson LIVE in concert. Also joining the lineup is Merle Haggard’s incredibly talented sons, Ben and Noel, collectively known as The Strangers performing on May 19th in honor of their father.
Willie Nelson paid tribute to his late friend Merle Haggard onstage days after he passed away. At a recent tour stop, the Red Headed Stranger performed “It’s All Going to Pot” while in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Joining Nelson on the stage was Jamey Johnson, who sang Haggard’s parts within the song, which was released on Nelson and Haggard’s joint project Django & Jimmie last year.
While Nelson enlisted Johnson’s help on the song, singer Melonie Cannon soon joined in, as did Nelson’s son, Lukas, and harmonica player Mickey Raphael for a spirited performance in memory of their old friend.
Haggard passed away on April 6 at the age of 79 after a series of health struggles. Nelson paid tribute to his friend and frequent singing partner on Facebook with a photo and link to a video of their most famous collaboration, 1983’s “Pancho & Lefty.”
“He was my brother, my friend. I will miss him,” Nelson wrote.
Haggard canceled tour dates several times over the past few months. In December of 2015, he learned he had double pneumonia. In an interview with Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius XM, Haggard revealed he was “nearly dead” when he was hospitalized for two weeks. Earlier this year, Haggard also canceled shows scheduled for Jan. 30 and 31 after his double pneumonia returned. Then, in March, he announced he was canceling all of his scheduled shows for April on doctor’s orders.
Haggard’s manager, Frank Mull, confirmed that the country legend died of pneumonia at 9:20AM on April 6 — his 79th birthday — in Palo Cedro, Calif.
Read More: Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson Duet on ‘It’s All Going to Pot’ | http://tasteofcountry.com/willie-nelson-jamey-johnson-duet-its-all-going-to-pot/?trackback=tsmclip