Danny Clinch, Courtesy of Haggard and Nelson via ljpr.org
The two met in Nashville in the early 1960s at a poker game that was held at Nelson’s house. Once they realized how much they had in common, They formed a deep bond that would last over five decades.
“He was a great audience for my jokes,” Nelson said. “I told him recently, ‘You know what you call a guitar player without a girlfriend? Homeless,’ and he laughed“.
Haggard and Nelson have had many great memories, from trying to balance their “pretty hard” lifestyle by jogging two miles in their cowboy boots every time they smoked a joint together, to recording the legendary song “Pancho and Lefty“, and more.
Nelson also reveals that he had a lot of admiration for Haggard.
“He came onto the scene with a bang. He wrote more Number One songs than me, Kris [Kristofferson], anybody,” he says. “He was a great one to follow. He was able to talk about his life in his songs intelligently and ingeniously, really. And from the time he met Johnny Cash in prison to ‘Okie from Muskogee,’ it’s a great story.”
When asked what his favorite Merle Haggard song is, it’s hard for Nelson to choose just one. “‘Looking For A Place To Fall Apart’ is a great one. ‘Somewhere Between’ is another,” he says.
He speaks highly of his memories from the last year of recording their album together, Django and Jimmie, and subsequent tour.
Haggard had to pull out of the tour due to his failing health and once he passed on April 6, 2016, Nelson vows that they are “finishing the tour in Merle’s honor”.
Nelson lost a duet partner and tour mate, but most of all, he lost his friend and his brother. Our prayers continue to be with Haggard’s friends and family and we know that his legacy will live on.
Watch Haggard and Nelson perform “Pancho and Lefty” below.
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