Saturday, October 12, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Willie Nelson

Artist:Willie Nelson f/Merle Haggard
Song:Pancho & Lefty
Album:The Essential Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson didn't become a big star until Waylon Jennings made him a country music outlaw in the mid-70s. After that success, he finally had some solo hits like Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Georgia on My Mind and others. In the 80s, Nelson became the king of duets. His 1983 album with Merle Haggard and single Pancho & Lefty dominated country music for a year. It's funny because if you listen to the album, it doesn't seem like Haggard is participating very much. Nelson did very well with albums he recorded with Leon Russell and then Ray Price. Though Haggard was a country music legend, he wasn't as successful in the late 70s as he was in the 60s. This was partly because Haggard moved from Capitol Records to MCA and his MCA albums did OK but not as good as his Capitol albums. So Haggard signed with Epic in 1981 and his first Epic album Big City was certified Gold. Nelson was already on Epic and decided he wanted to record with Haggard. So in 1982 Nelson brought Haggard to his recording studio in Texas. The album Pancho & Lefty was recorded in five days. Both guys were night owls and liked working into the wee hours of the morning. Apparently Nelson wanted to record Always On My Mind with Haggard but Haggard didn't like the song. Of course later that would become Nelson's signature song. Pancho & Lefty was written by legendary Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt and recorded by Emmylou Harris on her 1977 album Luxury Liner. Nelson's daughter Lana suggested Pancho & Lefty and brought the Luxury Liner album so the guys could listen to it. They liked it. Nelson recorded most of the song solo at 3AM in the morning. He woke Haggard up to have him sing his verse. That's why Haggard sounds a little sleepy. He thought they were going to re-record his part in the morning but they didn't. Both the single and the album topped the charts in 1983 and the album was certified Platinum. You can get it on this 2CD Willie Nelson comp. It revived Haggard's career and he had a string of country chart toppers in the mid-80s. Of course Nelson was also very successful. They recorded a second album together Seashores Of Old Mexico in 1987 and the two also recorded Last Of The Breed with Ray Price in 2007. Here's the video for Pancho & Lefty by Willie Nelson featuring Merle Haggard.

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