Another poster from Phil Weisman’s collection, thanks, Phil.
Archive for the ‘Merle Haggard’ Category
by: Mark Hughes Cobb
Willie and Merle: It’s one of those shows where the two names either ring all the bells or you’re a toddler whose parents resist all things country, for fear of seeming provincial, for fear of seeming unhip, or because you’ve heard too much of what’s called “country” for the past decades.
Aside from the names, the legends share other distinctions: voices rough-edged and often called “acquired tastes.” Lyrics and melodies ranging far outside the simple I-IV-V chord structures of most country-pop songs. Signature guitars. Outlaw status.
Both bucked the Nashville system, where purer expressions of plainspoken folk music got mired in syrupy strings and backing choruses to produce the nasal, twangy schlock product that makes many cringe at the thought of listening to anything called country.
Wielding a dark Telecaster and even murkier lyrical outpouring, much of it autobiographical, Merle Haggard helped create the West Coast Bakersfield sound. With a beat-up Martin N-20 named Trigger and a band of gypsies honing musical styles all across the boards, Willie Nelson traveled from being a Nashville insider to the defining face and sound of outlaw country music
Merle, who drew about 5,000 to the amphitheater last year without a superstar co-billing, has had 38 No. 1 hits and numerous other charting songs over a multi-decade career, including “Mama Tried,” “I Think I”ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” “Okie from Muskogee,” “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” “Ramblin’ Fever” and, in a duet with Willie, “Pancho and Lefty.”
Unlike many musical tough-guy wanna-bes, Merle actually went to prison for his crimes, in San Quentin, in fact, where he heard a country outlaw named Johnny Cash play. That concert is credited with helping turn the inmate’s life toward a brighter path. Last year at the amphitheater, he paid tribute to the memory of the Man in Black with a romping version of “Folsom Prison Blues.”
From last year’s show, I wrote “When he sang ‘I turned 21 in prison doing life without parole/no one could steer me right, but Mama tried, Mama tried/Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied/That leaves only me to blame ‘cause Mama tried,’ it’s clear that, with the except of the ‘life without parole,’ hyperbole, Haggard lived that song, earned every teardrop. The show served as a celebration of a man who’s walked himself through several levels of hell, yet at 75 is still out playing concerts almost every night, sounding strong and picking hard, feeding the fever that makes ramblin’ seem like one heckuva fine way to live.”
Willie’s played Tuscaloosa before, but the last time was May 2001, when he drew record crowds to the now-defunct CityFest. That May Saturday night, Tuscaloosa got a healthy dose of what makes him so eclectic and ever-changing, as he requested extra time: Organizers had originally planned a 90-minute set, but Willie stretched it to more than two hours.
With more than 60 studio albums to choose from, there’s little guessing what his setlist will be, other than that his recent shows tend to include a lot of crowd favorites, along with covers of Hank Williams’ songs such as “I Saw the Light,” “Jambalaya,” and “Hey Good Lookin’.”
In his early ’60s Nashville phase, Willie wrote standards such as “Crazy” — best known from the Patsy Cline hit, but covered by dozens since — “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Pretty Paper,” “Night Life” and “Hello Walls,” all of them hits for other singers, such as Roy Orbison, Ray Price, Faron Young and Billy Walker.
Though his songs sold to and for others, Willie’s solo recordings didn’t begin to take off — he’d come close to retiring from the music business in disgust — until he moved to free-wheeling Austin, Texas, where the hippie scene was more conducive to his brand of country, drawing in folk, jazz and American standard influences.
His 1973 album “Shotgun Willie” helped establish that image; Willie later said that album “cleared his throat.” Success grew with a pair of concept albums, “Phases and Stages” from 1974 and “Red-Headed Stranger” from 1975, the latter of which contained his first No. 1 hit as a singer, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”With buddies Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter (Jennings’ wife) and Tompall Glaser, he cut “Wanted: The Outlaws,” the disc credited with popularizing the “outlaw country” style, a purer sound free from studio gloss and songwriting by committee.
Duet hits with Jennings from that era include “Good Hearted Woman,” “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love).” From his own pen and his love of other songwriters, especially those from the American standards songbook, he’s also had hits with “Always On My Mind,” “Georgia On My Mind,” “Whiskey River,” “On the Road Again,” “Blue Skies,” “Stardust,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Let It Be Me,” “City of New Orleans,” “Forgiving You Was Easy,” “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time” and “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.”
Aside from Jennings, he’s also sung duets with Leon Russell, Ray Price, Roger Miller, Webb Pierce, Dolly Parton, Brenda Lee, Julio Iglesias, Ray Charles, Neil Young, Hank Cochran, Carlos Santana, Toby Keith, Emmylou Harris, Snoop Dogg and Merle. Chances are the legends will share stage time Thursday for “Reasons to Quit” or “Pancho and Lefty,” a No. 1 for Nelson and Haggard in 1983.
In April, Willie cut “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” featuring pop, jazz, rock and country standards he and his sister Bobbie, who plays piano in the band, have dug throughout their careers. Just out this month is a duets collection titled “To All the Girls … ” featuring Willie teaming with female singers including Parton, Harris, Miranda Lambert, Loretta Lynn, Carrie Underwood, the Secret Sisters, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd, Alison Krauss, Melonie Cannon, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones, Shelby Lynne, Lily Meola, Brandi Carlile, Tina Rose and Nelson’s daughter, Paula Nelson.
by: Liz Tracy
Tickets are on sale for the Oct. 24 Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard show at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, 2710 Jack Warner Parkway. Tickets are: $20, $39.50, $49.50 and $69.50, and the tickets will be available at the amphitheater box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.
Haggard played the amphitheater in 2012; this will be Nelson’s first return to Tuscaloosa since a 2001 performance at the now-defunct CityFest.
Better Than: A cold beer, a shot of whiskey, and a good cry.
All the old outlaws are only getting older.
Last night, though, the Red-Headed Stranger and the Okie From Muskogee proved that they might be wizened gentlemanly grandaddies who sing about love, heartbreak, drinkin’, tokin’, towin’ the line, and lovin’ the lord. But they’re “still alive.” And they’re still hard as fuckin’ railroad spikes.
Two of the lone remaining country badasses still standing (and singing), Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard charmed men in Stetsons, women in pearls, and children in “I Love Willie” onesies at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.
|Photo by Sayre Berman|
At 7:30 p.m. sharp, Merle the Mule kicked off the show, running and rambling through a half-dozen tunes that cut straight from some latest triumphs (“If I Could Only Fly”) to rowdy midcareer brawlers (“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”) to a string of late-’60s classics: “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “Mama Tried,” and “Today I Started Loving You Again.”
Only two weeks ago, Hag had been hospitalized with pneumonia. And he was forced to cancel a few gigs. But yesterday evening, aside from a little roughness in his voice, he seemed in solid shape, even laughing at the Reaper.
“It’s nice to be here,” Merle croakily cackled, pausing between ditties. “Well, it’s nice to be anywhere.”
“Someone called me up the other day and said, ‘I heard you had a heart attack and died,’” the bemused 75-year-old dude shook his head. “I said, ‘Nope, still alive.’
|Photo by Sayre Berman|
By 8:54 p.m., though, it was time for the second part of the show as Willie returned and the Texas flag unfurled to the floor behind him.
Wearing a big black hat just like his pal Merle, the 79-year-old Red-Headed Stranger waded into “Whiskey River” with a wide smile on his charming, craggy face. Crooning “Still Is Still Moving to Me,” he illuminated the mysteries of being at work while being at rest. And doubling back for another boozy anthem, Willie was “singing whiskey for my men, beer for my horses” with the whole damn place on backing vocals.
Merle Haggard’s Setlist:
-”If I Could Only Fly”
-”Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star”
-”I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”
-”The Bottle Let Me Down”
-”Today I Started Loving You Again”
-”The Fightin’ Side of Me”
-”If We Make It Through December”
-”Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash cover)
-”Take Me Back to Tulsa” (Bob Wills cover)
-”Okie from Muskogee”
-”Pancho and Lefty” (With Willie Nelson)
Willie Nelson’s Setlist:
-”Still Is Still Moving to Me”
-”Beer for My Horses”
-”Good Hearted Woman”
-”Funny How Time Just Slips Away”
-”Me and Paul”
-”Call Me the Breeze” (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover by Lukas Nelson)
-”Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”
-”Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”
-”On the Road Again”
-”Always on My Mind”
-”Texas Flood” (Stevie Ray Vaughan cover by Lukas Nelson)
-”Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” (Hank Williams cover)
-”Hey Good Lookin’” (Hank Williams cover)
-”Move It on Over” (Hank Williams cover)
-”Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (Fred Rose/Roy Acuff/Hank Williams cover)
-”Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”
-”I Saw the Light”
by: Liz Tracy
Last month, Willie Nelson announced a bunch of Florida dates, but Broward and Palm Beach counties sadly weren’t on his mind. But guess sometime in the past month, we got in there somehow, cause the Red Headed Stranger is storming into town in a haze of pot smoke and country music and he’s bringing Merle Haggard with him. These two legends of American music are coming to Hard Rock Live on February 7, and we’re rolling mad doobies and packing old cigarette boxes full of ‘em in anticipation, right now.
In just the past year, Nelson put out three albums, including one with Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones, Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles. His newest book not only has the best name in rock and roll or country music history, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, but it landed on the top 10 on The New York Times best-seller list. And the other grandfather of country Merle Haggard released an album in recent years, I Am What I Am, proving, these two aren’t old, they’re seasoned. Here are a few tunes to spark you up for their arrival.
This 1982 collabo might get you crying thinking about your mama or weepy for those lonely long nights with your horse, Mary Jane, out on the range. Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys, stoners have much more fun.
This song came from Merle’s hater days. Let’s hope he realizes South Florida is a long way away from Muskogee.
One thing Willie and Merle and their fans can agree upon, whiskey’s an acceptable form of intoxication.
But sometimes whiskey just ain’t enough, and the bottle lets ya down. Guess that’s when it’s time to pack a big beautiful bowl.
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. 7:30 p.m., Thursday, February 7, Hard Rock Live, One Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets on sale at 10 a.m., Friday, January 11. Tickets are $104, $84, $64 and $49. Call 800-745-3000, or visit Ticketmaster.com.
Lukas Nelson’s been gaining praise for his musical and vocal contributions to his legendary father, Willie Nelson’s new CD, Heroes, for which he contributes to 10 of the 14 tracks, including a riveting duet with his dad on the Eddie Vedder penned Pearl Jam tune “Just Breathe.”
The Pearl Jam frontman called into Willie’s radio show, “Willie’s Roadhouse” on Sirius XM radio the week of the album’s release to chat with the Nelson family. Vedder said that he “was real excited to hear Lukas and his father perform ‘Just Breathe’” and revealed that that he’s been getting great feedback from people who love the father-son duet version of his song.
“Lukas, well, thank you for talking your dad into playing the song,” Vedder told Lukas on the show. “We did it together and singing it together with him as a duet it’s the first thing I’ve done like that with my dad, so it really took on a whole different meaning for me and him. I’ll be something I’ll have forever with him. So thank you for that,” Lukas replied.
Kris Kristofferson, who is featured on Heroes’ “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” and Merle Haggard, who is on “A Horse Called Music,” also called into the show to give Lukas some praise. “I sure was impressed the last time I saw Lukas. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” said Kristofferson. Haggard and Willie talked about getting all of their kids together to record. “We’ve got families full of talent, we might as well,” said Haggard.
Meanwhile, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s second full-length CD, Wasted, is continuing to gain steam. The Patriot Ledger in Massachusetts said that the band’s sophomore album, “rocks harder and has more mind-bending guitar solos.” Roughstock.com also recently offered up this praise: “Nelson lets out all the stops with the album’s title track, ‘Wasted,’ which finds the singer/songwriter rocking out like a party animal. He sings its words with a slight growl over a Stones-y groove.”