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Willie Nelson Honors Merle Haggard With ‘He Won’t Ever Be Gone’ [WATCH]

On April 6, 2016, country music lost one of its most beloved icons, Merle Haggard. One year later, on Thursday (April 6), Willie Nelson released a video for his new tribute song to Haggard, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.”

Nelson’s “He Won’t Ever be Gone” video was filmed in the same simple style as the others that Nelson has recently shared in advance of his upcoming album (“It Gets Easier,” “A Woman’s Love” and Old Timer“). While each of those clips has been emotional in its own regard, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” is truly special: The video is full of footage from both Nelson’s recording of “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” along with clips from when he Haggard recorded their collaborative album Django & Jimmie, which gave Haggard his final No. 1 album.

“He Won’t Ever Be Gone” was written by Gary Nicholson and closes out Nelson’s forthcoming record, God’s Problem Child. In the first verse, Nelson talks about finding out that his good friend had died: “Got the news this morning / Knew it’d be a tough day / Some are so much larger than life / Can’t believe they could pass away / When it comes to country music, he’s the world / And it wouldn’t be all it is without Merle.”

Throughout “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” Nelson nods to his deep friendship with Haggard: “We were friends right from the start / We shared some highs and lows / I would sing some songs he wrote / And he would sing a few of mine / Music made us brothers ’til the end / Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.”

On Thursday night, in acknowledgment of Haggard’s birthday and the anniversary of his death, a number of country stars are coming together for tribute concert, Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard, in Nashville. Nelson, Sheryl CrowMiranda LambertKenny Chesney, John Mellencamp, Dierks BentleyLoretta LynnHank Williams Jr., the Avett BrothersAlison KraussRonnie DunnWarren HaynesJamey JohnsonKacey MusgravesLynyrd SkynyrdLucinda Williams, Ben Haggard, John AndersonConnie SmithBobby BareToby KeithAlabamaZZ Top‘s Billy GibbonsRodney CrowellBuddy MillerJake OwenAaron LewisTanya Tucker and Chris Janson will all be performing, as well as several other artists.

God’s Problem Child is set for release on April 28.

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