Not every outlaw rides alone.
On June 2nd, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard will release Django and Jimmie, an album of country duets, cover songs and newly-penned originals. Recorded in less than a week, it's the latest in a long line of collaborations by the two country legends, who first teamed up for 1983's Pancho & Lefty and recently co-headlined three shows at the WhiteWater Amphitheater in central Texas, looking to drum up anticipation — or buzz, in Nelson's case — for the new album.
"We've been talking about it for about 18 months," Haggard tells Rolling Stone. "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 album's title tips its hat to Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers, two major influences on Nelson's guitar playing and Haggard's songwriting. Django and Jimmie also finds the two singers paying tribute to each other, with Nelson singing lead vocals on a new recording of Haggard's "Somewhere Between" and Haggard returning the favor with a cover of Nelson's 55 year-old classic, "Family Bible." Even the album's producer, Buddy Cannon, gets a piece of the action, writing or co-writing five songs — including "It's All Going to Pot," a Willie-worthy salute to America's booming marijuana culture — on the 14-track album.
The album announcement arrives nearly 32 years to the day after Pancho & Lefty first climbed to the top of the country charts, knocking Alabama's Mountain Music from the top slot. Django and Jimmie also marks Willie Nelson's sixth studio album since signing with Legacy Recordings in February 2012.
"I'm a songwriter, and I really appreciate other songwriters," Nelson said. "Merle's one of the best."