Country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard have made their way back to the top of the heap. Their duets album, Django and Jimmie, has debuted at Number One on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and in the Number Seven spot on the all-genre Billboard 200.
Produced by Buddy Cannon and featuring 14 brand new recordings, the album’s title is a reference to Nelson and Haggard’s heroes — jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and one of country’s first stars, Jimmie Rodgers.
“We’ve been talking about it for about 18 months,” Haggard told Rolling Stone Country about the project back in April. “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 longtime friends have famously worked together in the past, scoring another Number One album in 1983 with the classic Pancho and Lefty.
“It’s a mutual-admiration society with us,” Nelson said about collaborating with Haggard. “Merle’s one of the best. There’s not anyone out there that can beat him. Maybe Kris Kristofferson. But then you start running out of names.”
The album’s first single is “It’s All Going to Pot,” an obvious allusion to Nelson and Haggard’s well-known fondness for marijuana, but also a riff on current events. The song was written by Cannon, Jamey Johnson and Larry Shell. Haggard and Nelson wrote or co-wrote a combined total of eight of the new tracks.
Speaking with Rolling Stone Country in May, Nelson hinted that a tandem tour could be a possibility, depending on how the album was received.
“In fact, I was talking to some folks today — I was gonna see what they thought of making us do a tour of it when (the album) comes out,” Nelson said. “We ought to do whatever we can get — as many days as we need to, because I know it’s a good record. I think it might sell a couple.”