Merle Haggard to sing at BioDiesel Conference


John Goodspeed
Express-News Staff Writer

Like his friend Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard has a hankering for renewable resources.

So when Haggard jumped on the bandwagon as a spokesman for the National Biodiesel Board, he said he would not only like to sing its praises but also sing for the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo 2007, which will run Sunday through Wednesday at the Convention Center.

While Haggard’s performance at 8 p.m. Monday in Municipal Auditorium will be part of the conference agenda, the concert will be open to the public. And it will be a regular Haggard show, without a bunch of speechifying but with all the classics and new tunes from one of the most influential singer/songwriters in American music.

But he just may say a word about combining vegetable oil with diesel for biodiesel — or BioWillie, as the blend is called.

“With escalating gas prices and dwindling petroleum resources, biodiesel is the next step toward a solution to the world’s energy crisis and a way to diminish dependency upon foreign oil,” he said in a statement.

Haggard’s still in overdrive on the music front, too. Last fall, he and George Jones released “Jones Sings Haggard, Haggard Sings Jones: Kickin’ Out the Footlights … Again,” named for The Hag’s 1979 tune “Footlights,” about an aging singer who finds emptiness in fame.

Haggard also joins country-music legends Nelson and Ray Price for their first album together, “Last of the Breed,” a two-disc set with newly recorded classics and two new songs, set for release March 20.

He was filmed last fall with rockabilly pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis for a yet-to-be-determined project. Then there’s the autobiographical movie he is working on with actor/director Robert Duvall.

Here are comments from Haggard on those topics from an interview with him in October:

On “Kickin’ Out the Footlights”: “My best performance was on ‘Things Have Gone to Pieces.’ And George just does the daylights out of ‘Sing Me Back Home.’ And ‘The Way I Am.’ He did both of those just absolutely wonderful.”

On “Last of the Breed”: “It’s great. I told Willie at the end of the session, ‘You know what? We just got ourselves a vocal lesson.’ Ray absolutely sang his butt off. He’s incredible. Willie is at his best, I sang pretty good and here’s this great father of the business, Ray Price, just giving us a lesson.”

On Lewis: “They’re doing a documentary on him and I’ve been involved a couple of times. It will be a lot better than the movie. He’s the last one of that kind left, the last of the Million-Dollar Quartet — and nobody would have predicted him to be the last. Elvis (Presley), (Johnny) Cash and (Carl) Perkins are the other three.”

On the film: “We’re working on the movie of my life. Robert Duvall is involved and we’ve been trying to put together a script. That’s the front burner right now. The script’s been around four or five years and we’re correcting it and bringing it up to date. You have to call it an episode from Merle Haggard’s life and hope HBO will do a spin-off series. My life has been a series of episodes, maybe like ‘The Waltons’ and John Dillinger combined, with Jimmie Rodgers thrown in there for free.”      

Leave a Reply