Archive for the ‘Merle Haggard’ Category
“Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard”
April 6, 2017
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
Keith Wortman, CEO of Blackbird Presents, which has produced tributes to John Lennon, Kris Kristofferson and Gregg Allman, said Nelson originally came up with the idea for a tribute concert and Haggard’s wife, Theresa, and his son, Ben, helped select the artists to be included. Haggard and Nelson recorded several albums together, including “Pancho & Lefty,” and Haggard’s last released album, “Django and Jimmie,” in 2015.
Haggard died April 6 on his 79th birthday after a career spanning five decades and dozens of iconic hits, including “Okie from Muskogee,” ”Mama Tried,” ”Hungry Eyes,” ”Today I Started Loving You Again” and such blue collar chronicles as “If We Make It Through December” and “Workin’ Man Blues.”
After canceling a few shows due to illness, Willie Nelson is feeling better and is ready to get back to performing. Nelson described his illness as a bout with “the crud” during an interview with ABC 12 News out of San Antonio.
In addition to his busy tour schedule, Nelson is readying for the release of his new album, God’s Problem Child. The album is set to debut on April 28, the day before Nelson’s 84th birthday.
God’s Problem Child is Nelson’s first record to feature original material in three years. Fans have already had the chance to hear one of the album’s songs, titled “A Woman’s Love.” Nelson debuted a music video for the tune on Wednesday (February 15).
The album’s last track has also generated a great deal of attention. Called “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” the song was written by Gary Nicholson as a tribute to late country legend Merle Haggard. Nelson and Haggard were friends for decades, and collaborated on a number of projects together.
But Nelson apparently decided that just one track wasn’t enough of a tribute to his dear friend. As he confirmed during his interview with ABC 12 News, he’s currently working on a tribute album to “The Hag.”
“We just got out of the studio yesterday [February 15] where we did an album for Merle Haggard,” Nelson said.
Nelson is no stranger to recording tribute albums. He often makes it a point to honor his friends and musical influences that passed away. One example is his album from September 2016, titled For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price. Nelson was a former member of Price’s Cherokee Cowboys and became good friends with him over the years.
Knowing how good Nelson’s tribute album was to Price, we can’t wait to see what he puts together for Haggard.
After all of this time, Nelson’s recordings still resonate with people both young and old. Nelson recalled a recent encounter with a young fan that left him with a big smile on his face:
“I was at a movie in Los Angeles one night at about midnight, and this young kid comes up to me and says, ‘Mr. Nelson I’m a big fan, and I just wanted you to know that I downloaded 12 of your songs today.’ I said, ‘Well, thank you.‘”
You’ll surely want to download all of the songs off of Nelson’s tribute album to Haggard and his new album God’s Problem Child. Until those albums are released, enjoy the music video for his song “A Woman’s Love” below.
PBS to broadcast “Last of the Breed” concert tour, with Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Freddy PowersFriday, November 25th, 2016
WILLIE NELSON, MERLE HAGGARD, AND RAY PRICE RETURN IN ENCORE BROADCAST OF “LAST OF THE BREED” ON PBS STATIONS – Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price — the elder statesmen of classic country music who have inspired artists and thrilled fans for decades — return to PBS stations (check local listings) in an encore presentation of Last of the Breed, a once-in-a-lifetime concert event taped in March 2007 during the final performance of their sold-out “Last of the Breed” tour that played to rave reviews everywhere. Nelson, Haggard and Price (backed by Grammy® Award winning “Kings of Texas Swing” Asleep at the Wheel, led by Ray Benson, and Ray Price’s Cherokee Cowboys) deliver rousing performances of their greatest hits in the richest voices this side of the Rio Grande.
The new airings of Last of the Breed are a particularly special tribute to Merle Haggard, who passed away in April of this year, and Ray Price, who passed away in December 2013. Said Willie Nelson: “With my dear friends Merle and Ray gone, it’s even more special that Last of the Breed is airing again. I’m so pleased that PBS is bringing this program back, and I hope everyone gets to see what a great time we all had together on-stage.”
Among the songs performed in Last of the Breed are “Okie From Muskogee,” “Pancho and Lefty,” “For the Good Times,” “Night Life,” “Crazy,” “Mama Tried,” “Always on My Mind,” “On the Road Again” and many others. The timeless music — warm yet gritty, powerful and honest — is bound to have viewers singing along from beginning to end.
Check local PBS station listings for broadcast dates and times.
Last of the Breed is an Ambassador Entertainment Inc. production, produced by Albert Spevak, directed by Lawrence Jordan, and executive produced by Mark Rothbaum and Albert Spevak. www.ambassador.tv
The PBS broadcast of Last of the Breed includes the following songs:
“San Antonio Rose” Ray Price
“Make the World Go Away” Ray Price
“For the Good Times” Ray Price
“Route 66” Asleep at the Wheel
“Take Me Back to Tulsa” Merle Haggard
“That’s the Way Love Goes” Merle Haggard
“Silver Wings” Merle Haggard
“Sing Me Back Home” Merle Haggard
“Okie From Muskogee” Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson
“Pancho and Lefty” Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
“Ramblin’ Fever” Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
“Night Life” Ray Price
“Crazy” Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price
“On the Road Again Willie Nelson
“Always on My Mind” Willie Nelson
“Mama Tried” Merle Haggard
“Whiskey River” Willie Nelson
- 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.
Gary Nicholson wrote, “When Merle Haggard passed I wrote a song, ‘He Won’t Ever Be Gone’.” I’m so thrilled and honored that Willie Nelson recorded it, Buddy Cannon produced, and I sang the scratch vocal when they cut the track. I brought along my Willie sculpture from THSHOF.”
No news on when we get to hear the song.
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.”