When Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson first met in the 1960s, they became fast friends. In the decades that passed, the two talented friends would tour together, record together, and share stories about life.
Nelson always held Haggard in high regard, telling Rolling Stone, “He was a great one to follow. He was able to talk about his life in his songs intelligently and ingeniously, really. And from the time he met Johnny Cash in prison to ‘Okie from Muskogee,’ it’s a great story.”
Haggard made friends with many artists throughout his career, but there was something special about his bond with Nelson. So when Haggard passed away on April 6, 2016, Nelson was understandably heartbroken.
After hearing the news of Haggard’s death, Nelson shared a candid picture of the two of them enjoying a good laugh. His statement was simple, reading, “He was my brother, my friend, I will miss him.”
Posted by Willie Nelson on Wednesday, April 6, 2016
For the first time in three years, Nelson has readied an album containing original material. His past two albums, Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin and For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price, were both comprised of cover songs.
Nelson’s new album, titled God’s Problem Child, is set for release on April 28, one day before his 84th birthday. The album contains seven songs co-written by Nelson, including one poking fun at the various death hoaxes that have been published about him, titled “Still Not Dead.”
The 13-track album concludes with what is sure to be an emotional song, called “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.” The track was written by singer, songwriter, and record producer, Gary Nicholson, who has penned material for Nelson in the past. He’s known for writing many memorable country hits, including Don Williams’ “That’s the Thing About Love,” Vince Gill‘s “One More Last Chance,” and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood‘s “Squeeze Me In.”
We’re sure that “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” will soon rank right up there with Nicholson’s impressive list of hits. As revealed on Wednesday (February 1), the track was written as a tribute to Haggard.
While we don’t know anything else about “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” we have a good feeling that it will be a real tear-jerker, especially since it was recorded by Nelson. While you wait to hear “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” and the rest of God’s Problem Child, tune in below to watch them duet on “Okie from Muskogee.”