3 Merle Haggard Collaborations with His Fellow Country Legends

Merle Haggard was among the greatest country singer/songwriters to ever pick up a pen or stand behind a microphone. Called the poet of the common man, Haggard had a singular talent for tapping into the highs, lows, and attitudes of the working class.

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Haggard was nearly untouchable alone. He also has a deep collection of duets with his fellow country legends. He recorded albums with George Jones and Willie Nelson and sang live alongside many others. Songs like “Yesterday’s Wine” featuring Jones and his rendition of “Pancho and Lefty” with Nelson are rightly among the best-known. Here are three more that prove that Ol’ Hag was a team player.

[RELATED: American Songwriter Throwback August 1984 Cover Story: Merle Haggard—His Songs Reflect the Man]

“No Show Jones”—Merle Haggard and George Jones

“No Show Jones” is a song that pokes fun at George Jones’ “no-show” era. It was a time when alcohol and cocaine stopped him from making it to concerts in the ‘70s. He missed so many dates that people started calling him No Show Jones. At the same time, club owners who didn’t book him would put his name on the marquee to draw crowds. When he didn’t show, they could just blame it on the “A Good Year for the Roses” singer’s habit of skipping shows.

While it’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek song, it had some serious power behind it. The great Billy Sherrill produced the track co-penned by Jones and Glenn Martin. Then, Jones and Merle Haggard recorded it for their 1982 collaborative album A Taste of Yesterday’s Wine. It also appears on the 1987 album Walking the Line which featured songs from Jones, Haggard, and Willie Nelson.

“It’s All Going to Pot”—Haggard and Willie Nelson

Haggard may have convinced many listeners that he didn’t partake in the devil’s lettuce in his satirical 1969 hit “Okie from Muskogee” but that wasn’t the case. The music video shows Haggard and Nelson toking in the studio while working on the song.

Written by Buddy Cannon, Jamey Johnson, and Larry Shell, it was the first single from Nelson and Haggard’s 2015 collaborative album Django & Jimmie.

Lyrically, the song sees the country legends lamenting that the world is going to pot. So is their money, to help them deal with the state of the world.

“A Place to Fall Apart”—Merle Haggard and Janie Fricke

Haggard wrote “A Place to Fall Apart” with Willie Nelson and Freddy Powers and released it as the second single from the 1984 album It’s All in the Game. It went to the top of the charts like many of Haggard’s singles of that era. This was also the first song to feature Haggard and Janie Fricke.

The other two songs on this list have been upbeat and fun. This one, however, is among the best heartbreak songs ever recorded. Blindsided by a breakup, the song’s narrator is all but begging his ex to tell him why she decided to call it quits. He tells her, I’ll be somewhere between “I Love You” and what you’re feeling now / Lookin’ for a place to fall apart.

Featured Image by David Redfern/Redferns

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