Artist: Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
Album: Django and Jimmie
Label: Legacy Records
Release Date: 06/02/2015
Johnny Cash is gone. Waylon Jennings is gone. True, there are plenty of outlaws left, but I guess Willie and Merle are at the top of the bunch, and still going strong after all these years. Long time friends, Django & Jimmie certainly isn’t the first time Willie and Merle have joined forces. Back in 1983, their album Pancho & Lefty was a break-out for both of them, casting their reputations in stone. Thank you Townes Van Zandt.
As a disclaimer, I should mention that I’m not exactly sure how to define or describe what outlaw country music is, but I do know it is very different than the current stuff claiming to be country music. Ah well, to each his own.
The album’s title song “Django and Jimmie” is a tribute to artists’ early influences: Willie’s guitar style was greatly influenced by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and Merle’s singing by the “Singing Brakeman” Jimmie Rodgers. “It’s All Going to Pot” gets right to the social point, while still hitting the humor button– something heard often from these outlaws. Will it become the anthem of the cannabis culture? I’m sure Willie was smiling while recording, and it certainly put a smile on my face. Buddy Cannon, who is also Willie’s longtime Producer, teamed up with Nelson to partially pen the mary-jane friendly anthem, as well as a few others on the album.
Merle’s song “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash” is always great to hear, and a real plus in duet with Willie. Their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” is another really great version of a song from fellow outlaw. The album ending song, Merle’s “The Only Man Wilder Than Me,” says it all about these two music legends, and is a great way to tie things up.
If you like outlaw country, or just want to try some of its best, try this album. Individually, these outlaw legends are great. Together, Willie and Merle are absolutely wonderful.
-Mark J. Smith