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  • Carl Z.
    Haggard skips, but album goes ahead August 11, 2006 BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter NASHVILLE, Tenn.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2006
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      Haggard skips, but album goes ahead

      August 11, 2006

      BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Many years ago country legend George Jones was so
      famous for missing gigs, he became known as "No Show Jones." Now he
      needs to show Merle Haggard how to punch the clock.

      Haggard postponed a historic concert Wednesday night with Jones
      outside Nashville that was being taped for Country Music Television's
      "Cross Country" series. Haggard left town citing "unforeseen
      scheduling conflicts in California," according to a CMT spokeswoman.

      Two days earlier, Haggard had arrived in Nashville to begin working
      with Jones on the album "Kicking Out the Footlights ... Again," due
      Oct. 24 on Bandit Records. On the disc, the icons swap vocals and
      harmonies on their biggest hits. Some songs were cut on Monday before
      Haggard split.

      On Wednesday, Haggard had been scheduled to sing Jones classics like
      "The Race Is On" and "The Window Up Above," while Jones was going to
      tackle Haggard's "Think I'll Stay Here and Drink" and "You Take Me for
      Granted." They were going to duet on Haggard's "Footlights."

      This is not the first time Haggard and Jones have worked together.
      They collaborated on "A Taste of Yesterday's Wine" (1982), which
      featured "Must've Been Drunk" and "No Show Jones."

      "George and I were a lot wilder and a lot younger back then," Haggard
      said in a phone interview a few weeks ago. "We're probably more
      dependable and predictable now. I don't know if that's good. We'll
      find out. George is straight, and he's been lying at the foot of the
      cross for a long time. He's a joy to be around."

      Haggard was in Nashville long enough in June to record an all-star
      trio disc with Willie Nelson and Ray Price under the helm of legendary
      producer Fred Foster, founder of Monument Records.

      "Those were spectacular sessions," Haggard said. "Don Helms [steel
      guitarist for Hank Williams] showed up from the past. Willie, Ray and
      I got in the same booth together. We started with Harlan Howard's
      "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down." Ray brought a good song to the session
      called 'It's One Hell of a Ride.' I brought a couple of new songs and
      Willie had a couple of new ones. We did some Jesse Ashlock songs. And
      a Mickey Newbury tune."

      Haggard reported he has three solo albums in the can. "I have a swing
      album, a new album of original songs and I'm working with Vince Gill
      on a tribute to Buck Owens and [Owens' longtime guitarist] Don Rich."

      It has been a rough year for Haggard. Besides the death of Owens, his
      Bakersfield, Calif., compatriot, he also lost his ex-wife Bonnie Owens
      (once married to Buck) and his first wife, Billie Leona (Hobbs Haggard
      Witherspoon). "She's the mother of my first four children," he said.
      "I had talked a lot to Buck on the phone. He wanted to do a record
      together, and we were in the process of working that out."

      But Haggard still has good vibes from his spring 2005-2006 tours with
      Bob Dylan. "It was exciting in that there was going to be people there
      who maybe were against me for 'Okie From Muskogee,' and they would
      leave a Merle Haggard fan. It was a good opportunity, and I'm proud of
      it.

      "Bob's not much on shooting the ----. In the two years I toured with
      him, I think I spent 45 minutes talking to him. We didn't talk about
      music much. I told him I wished he'd get out from behind that piano
      and play guitar. He said, 'I can't see my lyrics.' He asked me what I
      thought about North Korea. He's a neat guy to talk to, and he has a
      dry sense of humor. I liked working with him, but he wouldn't pay me
      enough. They couldn't afford to pay any more, and we couldn't afford
      to work that cheap."
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