WATCH: Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard Behind the Scenes of Recording ‘Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash’

by Keeli Parkey

Listening to one country music legend is always good. When two legends come together to celebrate another of their elite fraternity, you have something pretty special. That special event took place during 2015 when Willie Nelson joined forces with Merle Haggard to record the song “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash.”

According to, the idea for the song about Johnny Cash came from Haggard. He approached Nelson with the idea while they were working on their “Django and Jimmie” album.

“I ran it by Willie, and he liked it,” Haggard said, according to “It was just some words that I had some chords to, but really not a melody to it.”

Well, those “some words” Haggard penned capture Cash perfectly. Check these out: “Now Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two / Seemed to know just what to do / Invented the sound that hooked you and me / Added one to make the Tennessee Three / The Man In Black was long and lean / Hit the Billboard charts with a Teenage Queen …”

Here’s another example of how Haggard captured Cash with the lyrics for the song: “He wrote his songs from deep within / And he hit the stage with a crooked grin.”

In addition to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash” also includes country singer Bobby Bare, according to

Friendship With Johnny Cash Inspired Merle Haggard to Write Tribute Song

Luckily for country music fans, the recording process for “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash” was filmed and shared online. The video opens with producer Buddy Cannon talking about Haggard and his relationship with Johnny Cash.

“Johnny Cash and Merle – their history goes back,” Cannon said. “I think the first time Merle saw Johnny Cash he was an inmate in one of the prison shows that Cash played. They were friends all the way up to the end.”

The friendship he shared with Johnny Cash is on display in other lyrics for this tribute song. “Well, Johnny Cash was a friend of mine / Knew him well for a mighty long time / Shared the stage for many a show / Broke my heart to see him go …”

Of course, the video about the song also includes clips of Merle Haggard reciting the lyrics as the song is being developed for recording. Haggard also said the song is “kinda rapping.”

You can watch Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard record “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash” below. It’s definitely worth watching. You get to see a song come together as Haggard, Nelson, Cannon, and company collaborate behind the scenes. You also get to see Nelson and Haggard record parts of the song and interact with one another.

Want to see more about Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s collaboration on the “Django and Jimmie” album? Check out the video below.