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Throughout his life, Merle Haggard established connections and friendships with many of his fellow country artists. Two of the many artists Haggard grew close to over the years were Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks, who make up the phenomenal country duo Brooks & Dunn.
With 20 number one singles and countless other top ten hits in their 20-year career, in 2009 Brooks & Dunn announced their decision to retire. The news was heartbreaking to country fans, but they still had one last chance to see the duo perform on their Last Rodeo Tour. Brooks & Dunn brought several of their fellow artists along for a few dates on the tour, including Haggard, who performed with them from August 26-29 in 2010.
After Brooks & Dunn wrapped up their tour in September 2010, each of them went off to pursue solo careers. However, the two found themselves back together on stage in 2015 after they reunited for a series of shows as part of a Las Vegas residency with Reba McEntire.
Following Haggard’s death, Dunn shared a previously unheard phone conversation between Brooks and Haggard. Dunn doesn’t exactly specify when the conversation took place, but he does mention it was “not long ago.” In the conversation, Haggard asks Brooks if him and Dunn plan on getting back together, and when Brooks says he isn’t sure, “The Hag” had some final words of wisdom to share with his friend:
“Listen to me a minute. You had a thing going, and you kind of walked away from it. The thing’s still there. But how many people in the world have a thing going? You guys had a thing going. There’s some value in that…That’s all I’m gonna say.”
Brooks took in everything Haggard was saying, but he was quick to point out how much success Haggard had with his friend Willie Nelson as a duo. He said how they also had a good thing going, mainly because of one song…the iconic “Pancho and Lefty.” Brooks also mentioned how Haggard and Nelson experienced an immense amount of success with only one song, whereas Brooks & Dunn had been recording together for two decades.
Haggard accepted Brooks’ praise, but he wanted to leave him with one final message to prove just how much power Brooks & Dunn had as a duo.
“Well we sang forty other songs and only one of ’em you remember,” he said.
You can listen to the rest of Haggard and Brooks’ conversation below. Just as a warning, the clip contains some adult language.
Wow, what a powerful conversation between two of country music’s greatest. Thank goodness someone thought to record it.
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