Willie, Kris, & Merle Working on Musketeers Album

January 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  15 Comments

willie-nelson-kris-kristofferson-merle-haggardAt the 56th Annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, country legends Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Merle Haggard performed a medley of songs together along with Blake Shelton, with the occasion being Kris Kristofferson receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award and having his first self-titled album inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. But this grouping wasn’t accidental, or an augmented version of the supergroup The Highwaymen that Willie and Kris were once a part of with Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.

A long-planned, and even longer-rumored album and grouping of Willie, Merle, and Kris called “The Musketeers” has been in the works for years. Saving Country Music first reported on the potential supergroup in January of 2011 when the three men were assembled as part of Merle Haggard’s recognition by the Kennedy Center Honors. Haggard told Rolling Stone at the time:

We got to eat a little something together. We didn’t know what the hell this food was, but we thought it was funny. We (Merle and Willie) talked about doing that together, but with the presence of Kris, we talked about the three of us doing it. I’m sure if we’re healthy and live to do it, we’ll do it. We thought about the title: the Musketeers. You know, because there’s the three of us. We’ll come up with some little way of describing ourselves I guess and put it together into a show.

“The Musketeers” might just be a placeholder for the eventual name, but apparently the three Country Music Hall of Famers are still serious about the idea, and are working on music. When asked by Billboard before The Grammy Awards if a collaboration between the three men could be in the offing, Willie Nelson responded, “We’re working on one now.” When asked when fans could expect something, and if it could be this year, Willie responded, “As soon as we get it together. Could be.”

Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson have toured together in an acoustic show numerous times since 2009, and Willie Nelson worked with Merle Haggard in 2007 on the album Last of The Breed. Willie and Merle also collaborated on the Townes Van Zandt classic “Pancho & Lefty.”

Finally stimulating The Musketeers to go from talk to actual tracks might be the recent revelation from Kris Kristofferson that he’s beginning to experience memory issues.

15 Comments to “Willie, Kris, & Merle Working on Musketeers Album”

  • I’ve always thought they should have done another Highwaymen album with Merle and Jessi Colter filling in for Waylon and Johnny


    • This sounds amazing.


  • Music is a healer. Glenn Campbell said the neuro pathways in his brain can still remember music and lyrics without any problems. He can pick up his guitar and sing his songs.

    It’s short term memory loss that affects most of them with age related issues.
    Kris could use cue cards if need be. I hope it happens.


  • I saw Kristofferson and Haggard at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass a few years ago and it was great. I wondered back then if some sort of album would ever come from it and then promptly forgot about it. It is great seeing these legends working together now. I hope they bring it to fruition…


  • They also all worked together more recently on the Hank Cochran tribute album.
    ….just sayin’


  • Crossing my fingers that this gets done sooner than later. I’m sure it would be wonderful album.


  • I think it would be awesome to have the legends come together for an album. I would probably buy it!


  • Trig, what is it expected to sound like? Classic Willie, Kris and Merle or are they going to try and find a unique sound for their grouping? And when is this album expected to drop?

    On a side note, since I’m always jonesing to hear what you think of songs, Big & Rich released a new song called “Look at You” today on iTunes, AmazonMP3 and Spotify. It’ll eventually come under your radar so I figured I’d just tell you about it. Personally, I’m disappointed. It’s a nostalgia ballad with a hip hop beat about a girl that mentions a truck. If you remove B&R and replace them with Luke Bryan or Randy Houser, the song would be no different. Essentially, I think they’ve sold out.


    • I really have no idea what to expect from this project, and I would think a lot of what we could expect from the sound depends on the producer. Buddy Cannon has been producing a lot of Willie’s records lately on Legacy, and my guess is he would be first in line. Honestly, that idea troubles me because Buddy Cannon’s last few projects have been so weighted down with collaboration upon collaboration upon guest appearance that the music gets lost. That was my issue with the last few Willie records, and the Hank Cochran / Jamey Johnson tribute. They positively crammed these projects with names to create a big marketing buzz and the music got lost in the shuffle.

      However, and interesting side note is that another famous producer, Don Was was playing in the band backing these guys up at The Grammys. If Don Was is the producer, I would be much more excited about the prospects. In the end though, the best part about this is going to be the three men together. Kris’s skills are diminishing, Willie makes a horrible duet partner because of his singing style, but I still hope they spend some serious time and really make it a worthwhile project.

      As for the Big & Rich single, I will have to listen. Eric Church also just released a new one.


      • Yeah, I agree about the collaborations and the “diminishing” talents of Kristofferson and Nelson. The performance at the Grammys was ….. rusty, to say the least. Even the Highwaymen collaborations all sounded a little stilted because these guys really sing better on their own, not as part of a group vocal. Even then, I’ve always enjoyed the Highwaymen albums. And if Don Was produces this project, I’ll be even more interested. He produced the final Highwaymen album “The Road Goes on Forever”, which I personally thought was quite good and allowed the four legends to make music that sounded unique to their collaboration as opposed to music that sounded like a hodgepodge of their respective styles. Perhaps we have Was to thank for that?

        As for the new Big & Rich single, I don’t think that “Look at You” will incite an overly negative reaction from you. It’s not so much deserving of a rant as it is painfully mediocre, and you KNOW that has to be spot on given it’s coming from me, the B&R fanboy. To be honest, it’s really disappointing. I like it but only because I’m predisposed to like anything by these guys because they hit that special spot in my ear that no one else can. However, when they mentioned getting in the truck and referred to the girl as “girl”, I quite literally put my head down on my desk in shame. Similar to Eric Church, their music has always been more substantive and country than anything else on modern country radio, even if it’s not traditional. Say what you will about the two but they’ve always employed fiddles, banjos and steel guitars in their music and hadn’t had a single laundry list song to their name until this single. Sure, they might rap every now and then, but combining genres is their mantra so I consider that forgivable. I’m fearing that this song is a bad sign for what’s to come. Be sure to tell me what you think if you don’t address it in an article.


        • I have to say that even though I’m a big die hard Willie Nelson fan that (due to age) his voice has gotten shaky enough that I’m starting to feel sorry for him (or just sad really) when he performs. But, I also wouldn’t want to see him stop performing either. I could say the same thing about Merle too. It’s a tough one.


          • Really? Man, I’ve seen em both pretty recently and they sounded great. There was an obvious difference. They don’t sound the same that they used to but I don’t know if I would say it was sad or I feel sorry for em. They are doing what they love and they are doing it pretty damn good.


          • All of these guys purposely never sing the same way twice. So what some people think of as “diminishing” is actually a tremendous strength of creativity for them to still be creative everyday of their lives on stage. Only the most knowledgeable musical people know what is really going on there. These guys are professionals, they know what they’re doing.
            Willie and Merle are still awesome singers. They just don’t sing the way they did on record. And they don’t sing the same as they sang 30 years ago. Part of it is the ever changing human voice as part of aging, the other part is that they need to keep it fresh. Who but the least expressive musicians want to sing the same way night after night after night? That’s boring. They can color a song in interesting ways depending on their mood or feeling that night. That’s what sets the truly great apart from the rest.
            As for Blake Shelton, he’s bunk. I can’t stand him. If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Unless it’s about Blake Shelton trying to make himself look good by cutting other artists down. He’s not even very talented. Autotune fake. Bro country at it’s best.


  • Nice! Hope it happens!


  • The sooner the better…
    I loved what Don Was did on Kris’ “A moment of Forever” album.
    And what a roster of players on that one!


Leave a comment

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Modern Roots
Best Of Lists