AP via newyorker.com/msopr.com
For Billy Ray Cyrus, honoring his heroes is extremely important to him. So much so that he started an entire album as a tribute to his “favorite songwriters and artists”.
According to a press release, the album began to “transform into more than that”, but fans can expect lots of tributes to artists including Kris Kristofferson, The Highwaymen, Waylon Jennings, Don Williams and Merle Haggard.
The album, titled Thin Line, is available on September 9 and includes a duet featuring Cyrus’ son, Braison. They cover Haggard’s 1982 hit “Going Where The Lonely Go”.
If you preorder the album here on Amazon or here on iTunes, you will receive an instant download of “Hey Elvis” featuring legendary rocker Glenn Hughes and a remake of the Don Williams classic “Tulsa Time” featuring Aerosmith rocker Joe Perry. The title track will also be available for instant download on August 12!
This is not the first time Cyrus has paid tribute to Haggard. On his 1996 album Trail of Tears, he covered his all-time favorite Merle Haggard song, “Sing Me Back Home”.
“That’s my favorite Merle Haggard tune and one of my favorite songs in the world,” he told Country Weekly in 1996. I don’t think you can write a song as poignant as that anymore. Today, if a songwriter turned in a song that started out with a warden leading a prisoner down the hallway to his doom…that’s honesty, man. I’ve always admired the honesty in The Hag’s music and I’ve always strived to have that same integrity in mine.”
Cyrus stayed true to the classic, but obviously added a few changes to make the song his own.
“Sing Me Back Home” touched on a common theme of Haggard’s songs from the 1960s and 1970s – prison. In this song, the singer plays the role of an inmate watching a fellow prisoner walk to the death chamber. The singer is asked to play a final song for the condemned prisoner.
Listen to Cyrus sing the song Haggard made famous in 1967 below.