Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard Pay Tribute to Fellow Legends on ‘Django and Jimmie’
The 14-track album features numerous songs that were inspired by other country and folk artists, including the project's title track.
“Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers were very influential in both our careers," Nelson says in the video above. "I listened to both Jimmie and Django growing up, and I know Merle did too."
"Django and Jimmie" was written by Jimmy Melton and Jeff Prince, and when Haggard and Nelson first heard it, "they both flipped out over it," reveals the project's producer, Buddy Cannon.
Haggard and Nelson also pay tribute to Johnny Cash on “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash," a tune that takes a look at the close relationships both artists had with the Man in Black. Haggard came up with the idea for the track "during the time we were trying to put this album together," and the duo ran with it from there.
“I ran it by Willie, and he liked it," Haggard says. "It was just some words that I had some chords to, but really not a melody to it."
Adds Cannon, "[Haggard] just had the lyric, and he created the arrangement on the spot. Johnny Cash and Merle, their history goes back. I think the first time Merle saw Johnny Cash, he was an inmate in one of the prison shows that Cash played. They were friends all the way up to the end.”
Django and Jimmie also contains a cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." But despite so many outside influences, the project seems mainly to be a tribute to each other, especially the track "Unfair Weather Friend," which celebrates the pair's decades-long friendship.
“Getting to work with two of my all-time favorite heroes, it’s almost surreal. They’ve been such a heavy influence on me and my musical life,” Cannon says. “It’s like two long-lost brothers that have been separated and get back together. It’s like a family reunion almost.”
Harmonica player Mickey Raphael continues, "The way these two guys relate to each other -- I mean, they have a history and a past together, so just out of the blue ... some funny stories will come up that the two will tell ... It’s great seeing a little bit of history replayed."
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