Archive for the ‘Merle Haggard’ Category

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, Django and Jimmie

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

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www.RollingStone.com
June 2015
by:  Patrick Doyle

“Hello, I know you!” Merle Haggard says as he emerges from the bedroom of his tour bus. He’s talking to Willie Nelson, who’s sitting in the bus’s cramped front quarters. Standing nearby, Nelson’s wife, Annie, asks the pair if they’ll sign a couple of acoustic guitars for a charity run by Matthew McConaughey, a friend of the family. “Absolutely not,” Haggard says with a smile. Later, when Annie takes a photo of the two signing the guitars, Nelson grins and gives the camera the finger.

It’s a perfect Saturday night in South Texas, where Haggard, 78, and Nelson, 82, are playing the last of three sold-out shows together at New Braunfels’ Whitewater Amphitheater. Haggard is about to play a set, during which Nelson will join him on “Okie From Muskogee,” “Pancho and Lefty” and a handful of other songs. Backstage, Nelson family members catch up; his rail-thin 90-year-old roadie Ben Dorcy (who was once John Wayne’s assistant) ambles around, smoking a pipe. Directly behind the stage, locals ride down the Guadalupe River in inner tubes, stopping on the bank to listen to the show. “We’ll get somebody out there to sell them tickets,” Nelson jokes.

Sitting side by side on the bus, Nelson and Haggard look like they could be a grizzled Mount Rushmore of country music. “It’s a mutual-admiration society with us,” says Nelson. “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.”

Haggard and Nelson are about to release a new LP, Django and Jimmie. (The title is a tribute to Nelson’s and Haggard’s respective heroes, Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers.)

One of the best songs is “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash,” an ode to their late friend and a meditation on mortality. “There’s a thousand good stories about John,” says Nelson. Haggard tells one, about the time Cash thought it would be hilarious to dynamite a broken-down car he encountered on the side of the road. “He hooks it all up, hits the plunger and blows it up. And he said, ‘Now, when that guy goes to tell his old lady his car blew up, he won’t be lying!’?” Nelson cackles, adding, “John used to say, ‘I always get my best thinking done when June is talking.’?”

“I didn’t know anything about marijuana,” Haggard says. “It’s fantastic.”

Nelson and Haggard met at a poker game at Nelson’s Nashville house in 1964, when both were struggling songwriters. (Neither would have major success until they left Nashville behind; Nelson for Austin, Haggard for Bakersfield, California.) They didn’t become close until the late Seventies, when they were playing casinos in Reno. “We’d play a couple of long shows a day, then spend all night long jamming,” says Haggard.

In 1982, they recorded Pancho & Lefty together at Nelson’s ranch near Austin, where they’d stay awake for days — “We were living pretty hard in that time period,” Nelson has said — playing golf and then recording all night (Haggard barely remembers singing his famous verse on “Pancho and Lefty”). At the time, they were fasting on a master-cleanse regimen of cayenne pepper and lemon juice. “I think Willie went 10 days,” says Haggard. “I went seven.”

“I still ain’t got over it,” says Nelson. “Still hungry.” Adds Haggard, “You’re still high!”

These days, they share a love of conspiracy theories (both are devoted fans of paranormal-obsessed radio host Art Bell) and making music with their children (Haggard’s son Ben plays guitar in his band; Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah frequently join their father onstage). “It’s as good as it gets, to have your kids up there playing,” says Nelson. “And they’re good!”

On the new album, the two cover Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright).” The track was recorded before Dylan criticized Haggard and other artists in a widely publicized MusicCares speech in February: “Merle Haggard didn’t think much of my songs, but Buck Owens did,” Dylan said. “Buck Owens and Merle Haggard? If you have to have somebody’s blessing — you figure it out.” Dylan later apologized.

Haggard (who toured with Dylan in 2005) thinks Dylan was talking about the Merle Haggard of the Sixties — the guy who took shots at hippies, weed and premarital sex in 1969’s “Okie From Muskogee.”

“I didn’t misunderstand Bob,” says Haggard. “I know what he meant. He figured I was lumping him in with hippies [in the Sixties]. The lack of respect for the American military hurt my feelings at the time. But I never lumped Bob Dylan in with the hippies. What made him great was the fact that every body liked him. And I’ll tell you one thing, the goddamn hippies have got no exclusive on Bob Dylan!” He pauses. “Bob likes to box — I’d like to get in the ring with his ass, and give him somebody to hit.”

In fact, these days Merle Haggard is far more liberal than the man in his classic songs. For one thing, he loves pot. “I didn’t know anything about marijuana back then,” he says. “It’s one of the most fantastic things in the world.” Did he and Nelson smoke in the studio? “Are you kidding me?” Haggard says with a laugh.

Soon, the conversation devolves to jokes. “You know what you call a guitar player without a girlfriend?” Nelson asks. “Homeless.”

Next, they talk current events, Nelson explaining the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit to Haggard. (“They stole more than they were supposed to,” he says. Haggard nods.) Asked if either has any thoughts about communicating with fans through social media, they shake their heads. “Just so long as somebody else can do it,” says Nelson. “That’s why I didn’t learn to play steel guitar.”

“What was that little girl that played steel in Asleep at the Wheel?” says Haggard. “Cindy Cashdollar. Everybody was trying to look up her dress.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” deadpans Nelson. “I think I had the wrong angle.”

By now, Haggard is supposed to be onstage; his son has been extending his three-song warm-up set for several minutes, telling the crowd his father will be out soon. These co-headline dates sold so well that Nelson says there will be more: “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 it comes out.”

He turns to Haggard. “We ought to do whatever we can get — as many days as we need to,” Nelson says with a smile. “Because I know it’s a good record. I think it might sell a couple.”

 

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (Whitewater Amphitheater 2015)

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

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Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie”

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

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Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie”

Friday, June 24th, 2016

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I love this album.

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “A Horse Called Music”

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie”

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

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www.RollingStone.com
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.”

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

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This day in Willie Nelson history: “Django and Jimmie”, with Merle Haggard, released (June 2, 2016)

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

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On June 2, 2015, “Django and Jimmie” by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, was released.

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Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Monday, May 30th, 2016

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Thanks Phil Weisman for sending to me.

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

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Willie Nelson & Family, Kris Kristofferson with Ben Haggard, Noel Haggard & The Strangers

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

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photo:  Dan Schram

www.indyweek.com
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.”

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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:
Whiskey River
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
Down Yonder
Me & Paul
If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time
Nuages
Shoeshine Man
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
Uncloudy Day

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
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Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, The Strangers (Florence, SC) (May 19, 2016)

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

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Honoring Merle Haggard

May 19

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.

  • Arena, Florence, SC
  • $30, $45, $55
  • All tickets are for Reserved Seating: $30.00, $45.00, Floor $55.00 -additional fees may apply
  • May 19, 2016 8:00 pm
  • Buy Tickets Now

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Blake Shelton, “Highwaymen”

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Monday, May 2nd, 2016
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10:  Recording artists Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard perform during the opening night of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on March 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for The Smith Center)

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 10: Recording artists Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard perform during the opening night of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on March 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for The Smith Center)

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