Merle Haggard and Elvis Costello might seem like an unlikely duo, but the two came together earlier this week to honor one of country music's legendary songwriters, Hank Cochran. The country outlaw and rock singer/songwriter were part of a surprise celebration that honored Cochran for his 50 years in the business. Cochran has penned such classics as 'I Fall To Pieces,' recorded by Patsy Cline, as well as 'Ocean Front Property' and 'The Chair,' recorded by George Strait.

"Welcome to the first annual Hank Cochran Celebration," Merle told the crowd gathered at Nashville's BMI office building. Hag then went on to sing several of Cochran's songs. Another friend, Willie Nelson, couldn't be in town for the event but called in to tell Hank, tongue-in-cheek, "I want everybody there to know how great you are, if you haven't already told them."

Many of Hank's friends and peers turned out for the event, including Bobby Bare, Lee Ann Womack, Gene Watson, Jamey Johnson, Cowboy Jack Clement and Grand Ole Opry member Jeannie Seely, who was once married to Hank. Songwriters Dallas Frazier, Shawn Camp, Scotty Emerick, Dean Dillon, Red Lane, Jim Lauderdale and Whitey Shafer, several of whom have written songs with the honoree, were also on hand to say congratulations.

Hank was lured to BMI thinking he was going to receive several of the organization's Million-Air certificates, which recognize the millions of performances generated by songs he's written, including 'Make the World Go Away,' 'She's Got You,' 'I Fall to Pieces,' 'The Chair,' 'Ocean Front Property,' 'Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me,' 'Is It Raining at Your House,' 'Set 'Em Up Joe' and 'This Ain't My First Rodeo.' The celebration was especially meaningful in light of the fact that Hank is a survivor of pancreatic cancer, for which he underwent treatment last year. Hank is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame and the Country Music Walkway of Stars.