Archive for the ‘Merle Haggard’ Category

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 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.”

Get this great cd, if you haven’t yet:



Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard on NPR’s best songs of 2015 (so far) list

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


…2015…so far

NPR Music is launching an online radio station today with the best songs of 2015 (so far), and Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard’s “He’s the Only Man Wilder Than Me” is on the list.

Give the station a listen here:

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.

Read more:
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Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie”

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

by:  Clint Rhodes

In 1983, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard combined talents and delivered an entertaining ride with “Pancho & Lefty.”

Over 30 years later, the country music legends partner to pay tribute to the musical influence of Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers. The title track serves as a savory salute to the inspiration Reinhardt and Rodgers provided the two country outlaws as they sing, “Might not have been a Merle or a Willie, if not for a Django and Jimmie.”

The 82-year-old Nelson and 78-year-old Haggard furnish their weathered and time-tested voices to an honest, reflective and witty cluster of heartfelt arrangements.

As a teenager, I was unexpectedly introduced to Nelson’s material after coming across my older brother’s copy of “Willie and Family Live.” The double album from 1978 featured spirited versions of memorable songs such as “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Good Hearted Woman,” “Whiskey River” and one of my personal favorite Nelson-penned tunes, “Hello Walls.”

I discovered Haggard’s gritty, honest style from listening to the country music my grandmother would continuously play during my regular weekend visits. Songs like “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” “Okie from Muskogee” and “Mama Tried” would spark my attraction to traditional country sounds.

Standout cuts include the touching “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash,” the humorous “It’s All Going to Pot” and a compelling cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”

The two artists swap songs as Haggard performs Nelson’s “Family Bible” and Nelson lends his signature style to Haggard’s “Somewhere Between.”

The moving ballads “Unfair Weather Friend” and “Where Dreams Come to Die” are as elegant as they are sentimental and charming.

The album comes to a suitable close with “The Only Man Wilder Than Me.” This captivating number about friendship, admiration and respect aptly describes the relationship between Nelson and Haggard.

The latest offering from these two country music icons is a comfortable collaboration that should motivate them to reunite on a more regular basis.

Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at

What we’re listening to: WIllie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie”

Sunday, June 21st, 2015




I love this album.  That’s my review.

Django and Jimmie: Track List (Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard)

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

If you haven’t got one yet, treat yourself.

This is a gem.





Django and Jimmie outakes

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Fun behind-the-scene snippets from the studio, with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and Buddy Cannon.

Thanks to Diana Chang, Team Coco Digital, for finding this. | |

The album is out! It’s fantastic.

“Time flies by in the blink of an eye / When you get paid for having too much fun” — Willie Nelson

Monday, June 15th, 2015


Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard do it again

Friday, June 12th, 2015

by: Chuck Yarborough

Six times, country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard have gotten together to record duet albums, and each time, the only one better than the last one has been the next one.

Of course, none have topped 1983’s “Pancho and Lefty” in terms of popularity, just for that song alone. But from the first cut to the last, this week’s “Django and Jimmie,” the superstars’ homage to Belgian-born two-finger guitarist Django Reinhardt and country great Jimmie Rodgers could be the winner.

Reinhardt, a Romani Gypsy who lost the use of his pinky and ring fingers on his left hand in a fire and died at the age of 43 in 1953, is credited with creating a style of fast-picking, syncopated guitar called “hot” jazz.

Though Nelson is hardly jazz, he employs a lot of that rapid-fire style of picking on his beloved Martin acoustic, Trigger.


Lyrics in the title cut note that without Django, there might not have been a Willie Nelson, and that Haggard learned to sing listening to Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel.”

It’s a sweet song that works because two longtime friends and legends clearly are having a blast doing it. But it’s rivaled by “It’s All Going to Pot,” which features co-writer and country traditionalist Jamey Johnson.

“Live This Long” contains a refrain to which all of us who’ve discovered more salt than pepper in our hair can relate: If we’d known we were gonna last this long, we’d have taken better care of ourselves.

Perhaps the sweetest tune is the Haggard-penned “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash,” featuring “500 Miles Away From Home” songwriter Bobby Bare on guest vocals.

“Alice in Hulaland,” co-written by Nelson and producer-frequent songwriting partner Buddy Cannon, is a nice little country ditty that makes fun – respectfully, of course – of groupies. And yes, guys who are in their late 70s (Hag is 78) and early 80s (Nelson is 82) can have groupies.

Haggard’s storied “Family Bible,” “Swinging Doors” and “Somewhere Between” resurface on the album, given new life by the presence of his longtime pal, Nelson.

But maybe that’s because, as the Hag wrote in the album’s walk-off tune, Nelson is “The Only Man Wilder Than Me.”


Friday, June 12th, 2015


Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard play country music

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

by:  Amy McCarthy

The universe of country music has always been made up of completely different planets. The music made in Nashville has always determined the prevailing sound, but artists across the country have always been doing their own thing. Nowhere is that more true than in Texas. The country music here has always been served with a shot of outlaw rebellion, thanks in large part to the industry’s refusal to bring the red dirt sound into the mainstream. Well, that and Willie Nelson.

As the most iconic Texan in country music, Willie Nelson’s sound has always been influenced with local twang. Throughout his seemingly eternal career, Nelson has been able to attract an audience far beyond the rest of country’s usual suspects. Everyone loves Nelson because he’s Willie-fucking-Nelson, and when he’s teamed up with his old buddy Merle Haggard, you know the results are always going to be impressive.

Yesterday, Django & Jimmie, Haggard and Nelson’s recently released album of new songs and covers, shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Country Album Charts on the day of its release, and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 200. The first single, “It’s All Going to Pot,” an obvious ode to Nelson’s favorite plant, the current state of country music and the world at large, was a viral video success, racking up more than a million views on YouTube since its release in April. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard aren’t just country legends; they’re the definition of cross-over success.

And yet, unlike Taylor Swift and Shania Twain and all of the other artists who have had a great deal of success with pop audiences, Django & Jimmie sounds like actual country music. For the record executives that fear that too much twang and authenticity would drive younger fans away from the genre, the success of this album proves that country artists, especially those in Texas, don’t have to change their formula. They just need to make damn good country music.

Congratulations Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard!

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015


Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie” #1 on Billboard Country Chart

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

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.”

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Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, “Don’t Think Twice (it’s all right)”

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015