Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard have teamed up over the years, from their 1983 classic “Pancho and Lefty” to their Last of the Breed album and tour with Ray Price, but as Haggard has said, they only do it when the material is right. The duo linked, though, once they heard “Django and Jimmie,” a tribute to Nelson and Haggard’s respective heroes, Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers (written by Jimmy Melton and Jeff Prince). “It pulled my heard right out,” says Haggard. “I thought, ‘That’s a pretty good song.'”
It became the genesis of their new album, out June 2nd. In honor of Nelson’s 82nd birthday, enjoy this 10-minute video – filmed at Austin’s Arlyn Studios – which gives a rare glimpse into Haggard and Nelson working in the studio, full of weed and jokes. (“Can I borrow some money to get home?” Haggard asks Nelson.) “It’s almost surreal,” says producer Buddy Cannon, of being part of it.
In several fly-on-the-wall scenes, see them reminisce about Johnny Cash and duet on Bob Dylan. Their enthusiasm for the material is evident when they discuss “Unfair Weather Friend,” a new ballad written by Marla Cannon-Goodman and Ward Davis. “It’s got all the great ingredients of being one of those well-known standards,” says Haggard. Adds Nelson, “I think it has a good chance.”
In another scene, they wonder about a new lyric written by Jamey Johnson about a “cackle bobblehead in a box.” “Somebody’s got some weird shit they’re smoking,” someone in the studio says.
“Yeah,” Nelson says. “They’re holding out on us.”