DIARY - 11 DECEMBER 2007 - MERLE HAGGARD CD REVIEW
MERLE HAGGARD, RAY PRICE AND WILLIE NELSON
LAST OF THE BREED (LOST HIGHWAY-UNIVERSAL)
WILLIE AND MERLE - OLDEST BABYS IN TEXAS
Ray Price appeared at the 2006 Willie Nelson July 4 Picnic at the
Stockyards in Fort Worth he was the only artist to ban photographers
from the mosh pit and stage.
But it had nothing to do with a confession he made at a CD launch
at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
"I'm 81 years old, and I'm not the father of Anna Nicole's
child," Price told bemused guests.
"We're trying to play the kind of music everybody has been
kind of denied for about 25 years."
Texan troubadour paid tribute to Hank Williams, a former Nashville
roommate, by singing Mansion On The Hill with the revamped
former Cherokees bassist Willie, 74, and Merle Haggard, 69, were showcasing
their two CD epic Last Of The Breed (Lost Highway-Universal.)
proved ah, fit as a fiddle, as he performed his 1959 hit Crazy Arms
with seven fiddles and steel guitar at the launch with Asleep At The
But it's not on the disc rooted in Bob Wills golden western swing era
with gems from recently deceased Texan Cindy Walker who died at 87 just
nine days before Willie's tribute disc to her.
Oklahoma born Floyd Tillman, who passed at 88 in Texas in 2003, provided
four songs including I Love You So Much It Hurts and I'll Keep
On Loving You.
Former Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis, who pulled up stumps at 101 before
the floods, is honoured with My Mary and Leon Payne's oft-recorded
Lost Highway is a salient signpost to this joyous journey.
The trio kicks off with apt My Life's Been A Pleasure - one of
four tunes penned by late Texas Playboys fiddler Jesse Ashlock - and reach
closing time with Walker's equally fitting Night Watch.
In between its non-stop nostalgia with former Golden Gloves boxer Lefty
Frizzell double shot Mom And Dad's Waltz and I Love You A Thousand
Ways, Harlan Howard classic pair Heartaches By The Number,
with Vince Gill as guest, and Pick Me Up On Your Way Down.
Willie and Merle combine on Nelson's freshly minted Back To Earth
and Merle performs a solo cut of new tune If I Ever Get Lucky.
guests on his Why Me and the trio revives Mickey Newbury's
Sweet Memories and Gene Autry classic That Silver Haired
Daddy Of Mine.
The tunes are part of a rich tapestry woven by the legends and session
serfs sourced by veteran producer Fred Foster.
The Jordanaires provide backing vocals on seven tracks with twin fiddles
of Johnny Gimble and Elana James, harmonica player Charlie McCoy and
steel guitarist Buddy Emmons on this whirlwind two-day session.
So why did Price avoid photographers in Cowtown - certainly not his
vocals that have stood the test of time?
And, definitely not, flashbacks from his marijuana bust at the ripe
young age of 73 in March, 1979, on his 200-acre farm near aptly named
East Texas town Mt Pleasant.
called me and right away and said 'well, you just got $5 million of publicity,"
Price revealed of his peer whose songs he refused to cut for a decade
after Willie shot his prize breeding cock rooster.
"Everybody thought I was dead at that point. They revived my career
so strong you wouldn't believe it."
Well history does repeat but Ray was not on the bus when Willie, then
72, and older sister Bobbie, 75, were busted in Louisiana with more than
a pound of the nation's biggest cash crop.
But you don't need any herbal stimulation to enjoy this superb trip down
the richest vein of the genre.
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