Merle Haggard took a few minutes before his set Friday at the 2015 Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio to talk to The Times about "Django and Jimmie," his forthcoming collaboration with fellow vet Willie Nelson.
The record doesn't drop until June 2, but Haggard sounded delighted talking to his tour manager Frank Mull about the early response to the first song, "It's All Going to Pot." The official video, documenting the two country giants in the studio working on the song between puffs from what appear to be joints, was released Monday, April 20, a.k.a. 420, the international cannabis appreciation day.
Outlining the number of views it has logged in just three days — about 4.5 million — Mull said there was already an unauthorized version posted on YouTube they were working to remove.
"That's what happens when you're hot," he said.
Haggard replied: "You know what they say, 'When you're hot, you're hot; when you're not, you pick up awards.'"
Haggard also shared a favorite anecdote about celebrated Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who with country music founding father Jimmie Rodgers is the titular subject of the new, Nelson-Haggard song that gives the album its title.
"The first time Django came to this country," Haggard said, "he stepped off the boat or the plane, however he got here, and someone asked him, 'Where's your guitar?'
"And Django said, 'I thought you'd have some here,'" Haggard said. "Now that's confidence."
In that title song, the two men profess their enduring admiration for such country greats as Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell and their mutual friend Johnny Cash, and they sing that it was Reinhardt and Rodgers who set them both on the road to a life of music.
Stay tuned for more on Haggard and Nelson's "Django and Willie" from the Times Music team. In the meantime, follow @PopHiss and @RandyLewis2 on Twitter, and check out our brand-new Classic Rock Facebook page.