Archive for the ‘Merle Haggard’ Category

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

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


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

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016


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



Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Monday, May 30th, 2016


Thanks Phil Weisman for sending to me.

Sunday, May 29th, 2016


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

Saturday, May 28th, 2016


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:
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
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

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

Thursday, May 19th, 2016


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)


Willie Nelson joins Neil Young for tribute to Merle Haggard (April 26, 2016) (New Braunfels, TX)

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Willie Nelson and Jamey Johnson, “It’s All Going to Pot”

Monday, April 25th, 2016

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’ |

Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Merle Haggard “Last of the Breed”

Monday, April 18th, 2016


In 2007 that Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price recorded their Last of the Breed album, of western swing, country classics and some of the best country music ever written — most of it by them.     The artists took their show on the road and toured in support of the album in March of that year.

There were no 14-year-olds on that tour, but those guys toured like they were teenagers promoting their first album, blazing a trail across the country performing 15-shows in 17 days.  I got to see their show a couple times here in Colorado, and I was blown away.  These talented musicans were at the top of their game  and were having so much fun performing together. And the music!  They were joined by friend and fellow musical genius Freddy Powers, and sang their award-winning hits to sold-out halls everwhere.   We all left those shows knowing we’d just experienced something very special.

The Last of the Breed album was released before the tour, a double-album,  and a DVD quickly followed.  Now, on March 3, 2009, Image Entertainment will  release a live cd, recorded from their concerts.  This is good news, because it is going to get wider distribution, and will also be available, for the first time, through i-tunes for download.

They are the Last of the Breed — the elder statesmen of classic country music who have inspired artists for decades. No one else sings country music with the passion and purity of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price. In March 2007, these living legends and Country Music Hall of Famers united on stage for a once-in-a-lifetime concert event that was captured for television and recorded to give fans the ultimate concert experience. Backed by the GRAMMY Award-winning Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel and Ray Price’s Cherokee Cowboys, LIVE FROM THE LAST OF THE BREED TOUR presents Willie’s, Merle’s and Ray’s greatest hits that they performed on this magical evening.


  1. Miles and Miles of Texas (w/Asleep at the Wheel
  2. Make the World Go Away (Ray Price)
  3. For the Good Times (Ray Price)
  4. Take Me Back to Tulsa (Merle Haggard)
  5. Silver Wings (Merle Haggard)
  6. That’s the Way Love Goes (Merle Haggard)
  7. Okie From Miskogee (Merle Haggard)
  8. Pancho and Lefty (Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard)
  9. Always on My Mind (Willie Nelson)
  10. Mama Tried (Merle Haggard)
  11. Ramblin’ Fever (Merle Haggard)
  12. I Gotta Have My Baby Back (Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Merle Haggard)
  13. Night Life (Ray Price)
  14. Sing Me Back Home (Merle Haggard)
  15. Crazy (Willie Nelson, Ray Price
  16. On the Road Again (Willie Nelson)

In March 2007, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price performed on-stage together for the first time in the Last of the Breed tour.

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and the Grand Old Party

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

by:  Jack Whyte

Two musical events last week set my thoughts swirling and took me, as usual in such cases, in directions I had no idea I wanted to explore.
The first was the death of country singer Merle Haggard, at the age of 79, and the other was a long-postponed evening taken to watch a month-old recording of the November 2015 award ceremony when Willie Nelson, at 82, became the seventh person to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Two men, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, both achieving front-of-consciousness prominence — for me at least — in the same week, though for vastly different reasons.

Yet old as they may be in terms of years lived, both are destined to remain young forever in the realm of their achievements, individually and collectively.

Each of them took pride in labelling himself an outlaw, though the outlawry they laid claim to was a purely musical distinction.
They were among the founding fraternity of what is now called outlaw music, the group that rebelled in the 1970s against the saccharine sweetness of the stylized, orthodox country music being peddled and promoted by the Grand Ol’ Opry of Nashville.

Repelled by the cloying unctuousness of the Nashville Opry, Willie and Merle threw in their lot with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and others in establishing a new sub-genre of country music.

It was raw and it was raucous and irreverent and profoundly human, and it’s known today as outlaw music.
Out of that association, depending upon who’s telling the story, emerged the phenomenon known today as the Austin City Sound — a far more free-wheeling and gutsy style of country music than the Nashville variety — that proudly traces its roots back to the rockabilly traditions of the 1950s and Elvis Presley.

What endeared these two men, their colleagues and their entire genre of songs to me originally, though, was the fact that they were, and always will be, storytellers in the grand, traditional sense enjoyed by bards and minstrels since the beginning of time.

They and the others of their ilk are, in a very real and very pertinent contemporary sense, the embodiment of the Spirit of America, the seannachies of the American people, the tribal celebrants of the people’s ways, customs and culture.

Their music is everyman’s. It speaks for, and to, the masses of the people on the most basic, communal level, proving that it is no accident that American country music is the most popular style of music in the western world.

It was at that point, thinking along those lines, that I found myself contemplating the differences between everything that we, as Canadians, respect and admire about the United States and its culture, and the ludicrous spectacle that we see every night on our television screens as the dog and pony show of the Republican party candidacy race unfolds.

In growing disbelief, we sit gawking at the news, watching wide-eyed and slack mouthed as the struggle between a blustering, egotistical fascist and a rabid, right-wing religious fundamentalist grows ever more bitter and contentious. And we are collectively appalled — or most of us are — to realize that these cynical, manipulative demagogues are fighting each other for control over the destiny of the American people.

That said, though, we continue to believe, for the protection of our own sanity, that wisdom will prevail in the end; that the current farce will fizzle out and the contestants will be consigned to the midden with all the other inedible orts from history’s table.

But there is no denying that the unbelievable is actually occurring as we watch. Nor is there any doubt that supposedly knowledgeable, analytical minds are taking these events seriously, with people making dire predictions and assumptions about the implosion, perhaps even the disintegration and demise, of Abe Lincoln’s Grand Old Party.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. We all know that, but at this time, on the GOP side at least, there appears to be no means in sight of arranging a rapprochement between the two leading, rutting billygoats.

The chances of containing the egregious damage they are causing to their party, and to their country’s international image, appear to be dwindling ever day, but even if a miracle occurred and the rabies-like symptoms of both front runners were to disappear, where would the leavening influence come from to heal the open rifts already caused?

Could anyone unknown to this point emerge from the wings to spread healing balm across the ruptured Republican spectrum? From where I’m sitting, that doesn’t appear likely.

There are only two of the original musical Outlaws left now, it seems, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. And seriously, I think I’d rather vote for Willie as a representative leader of America than I would for either Trump or Cruz.

Jack Whyte is a Kelowna author of 15 best-selling novels. Email or read more at