Willie Nelson is getting ready to release a new album with Merle Haggard. The two country legends will release Django and Jimmie on June 2. This is Willie Nelson’s sixth album collaboration with Merle Haggard since 1983’s Pancho and Lefty.
Django and Jimmie are names that Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard look up to in the country music world. The title track from the album is a tribute to these two heroes. In another track they lightheartedly pay homage to their late country brother on “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash.” In “The Only Man Wilder Than Me” the duo poke fun at each other and how crazy they once were and still are. Willie Nelson really hasn’t changed much in all these years, and that’s a good thing.
You can hear all the tracks from the album over at NPR. They’ve been there streaming to fans since Sunday, ahead of Nelson’s album release. He will undoubtedly embark on another tour soon after.
Willie signed with Legend records in 2012, and Yahoo! Music notes how this will be his sixth album since then. That’s six albums in three years. All this as Willie Nelson celebrated his 82nd birthday last month. He’s definitely one of the hardest working men in show business. By contrast, Merle hasn’t recorded any albums during the same time period. But don’t let that detract from his status as a bonafide country legend, along with Willie.
The album doesn’t feel dated at all. It will more than satisfy preexisting Willie Nelson fans. And it will also probably gain him many new ones. Despite the fact that the duo of Nelson and Haggard are 82 and 78 respectively, and have had unrivaled success in country music, they were once both struggling artists who met each other in 1964.
Rolling Stone talks about how they came together so many years ago.
“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.”
If you’re a fan craving the country music of yesteryear, or the unfettered, buoyant spirit of outlaw country, then we need to treasure music projects like this. We need to treasure the moments we still have with Willie Nelson, our last connection to the ingenuity that once defined country music.
[Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS]