Musical Notes — Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
Voiceover by Lawrence Standifer Stevens / Written by Joseph E. Casanova
Starting with the historic “Pancho and Lefty” in 1983, country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard recently released their sixth album of duets called Django & Jimmie.
Nelson and Haggard are on the road again for a two-month tour this fall with the only Texas stop at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth.
The title track pays their respects to two musicians who greatly inspired their careers – jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and famed yodeler Jimmie Rodgers.
They also honor an old friend and fellow icon in Missing Ol Johnny Cash as well as reflect on their own longevity in Live This Long.
They even cover Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice and the gospel standard Family Bible. I hope many of these songs garner airplay on today’s cookie-cutter format as they definitely deserve more than just a listen.
My mom’s a huge Willie Nelson fan. Two of her favorites are the romantic Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain and Crazy, the ballad he penned for the late great Patsy Cline.
She told me about how he worked as a disc jockey at KBOP in Pleasanton, Texas — down near Corpus Christi — in the 50’s.
“We used to listen to his music when your father was stationed in Olympia, Washington, before you were born,” she said.
Then she’d remind me of how when I was in high school, area promoters tried to bring the country singer to town for a concert at the local park.
Both he and Haggard, along with the late Waylon Jennings, pioneered the notorious “Outlaw Movement” of the 70’s and early 80’s.
The locals feared possible problems with motorcycle gangs. I guess they expected riots and mass chaos to occur.
However, the show went off without a hitch, despite low ticket sales and attendance. Even my parents regretted not going considering they fell for the unwarranted paranoia.
Willie’s heroes may have always been cowboys, but it looks like those outlaws had more fun and definitely sold more records.