From ‘Pancho & Lefty’ to ‘Django and Jimmie’

You know the names. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. They’re two of the last standing legends of country music. They’ve achieved a great amount of success and have earned the respect of everyone in the industry. So when these two legends come together to record a duet album, they can afford to put out a bad album. Luckily, they chose not to.

“Django and Jimmie” is the result of perfect timing. Haggard pointed out in an interview the two had been talking about doing another album for a long time, and it just so happened that now was the right time.

The album, produced by Buddy Cannon, is the first duet from the two outlaws since 1982’s “Pancho & Lefty,” and it features some of the best musicians in the business, such as Nelson’s harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, and Arkansas native, Shawn Camp.

The title track, “Django and Jimmie,” is a tribute to music legends Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers. The final line says it all: “There might not have been a Merle or a Willie, if not for Django and Jimmie.”

The duo pays tribute to another influence and friend, Johnny Cash, with “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash.” The song came from an idea Haggard had, which he described as more of a rap.

Both Nelson and Haggard had a history with Cash. Nelson and Cash were members of the iconic country super group, The Highwaymen, along with Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

Haggard was a longtime friend of Cash, but he first became a fan when Cash played at a prison that Haggard was serving time in.

For those hoping for some beautiful smoking music, you’re in luck with “It’s All Going To Pot.” For those who haven’t guessed what this song is about, allow me to fill you in.

Haggard and especially Nelson are supporters of legalizing marijuana. In fact, there’s a video of them in the studio, while this album was being recorded, where Nelson passes Haggard what appears to be a joint.

One of the highlights of the record is Haggard’s rendition of “Family Bible,” which was written by a young Nelson while he was a radio DJ. Not long after writing it, he sold the rights to the song. But most fans know who it truly belongs to.

In 2014, it was announced that Nelson, Haggard and Kristofferson were working on an album together. I can’t help but think that this album was originally supposed to serve that purpose, but for whatever reason, Kristofferson is not a part of it. Regardless, this record is pure country, pure heart and soul and another great addition to the legacies of two old friends.