TN-3.21.14)  Country Music
Hall of Famer will be the subject of a tribute album featuring recordings of
his hits by Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley, Toby Keith and others.
He’ll also receive the Academy of Country Music’s Crystal Milestone award
during the ‘ACM Awards’ telecast April 6. / Myriam Santos
Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard will be the focus of
two tributes next month – one an album of the singer’s hits recorded by current
country stars, the other from the Academy of Country Music.
Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean and Toby Keith are among
the artists lending their voices to Working Man’s Poet: A Tribute to
Merle Haggard
, out April 1 on Broken Bow Records. During the 49th annual
Academy of Country Music Awards on April 6 – Haggard’s 77th birthday – he’ll be
the recipient of a multi-artist tribute segment and receive the ACM’s Crystal
Milestone award, honoring his 50th anniversary in country music.
“He’s one of the purest voices ever in country music,”
says Bryan, who will co-host the ACMs telecast with Blake Shelton. “He’s had
such an extraordinary life, so many things to draw from for songs. It’s amazing
just how many things that guy has been through and seen through the
Haggard had his first hit, Sing a Sad Song, in 1964,
and he topped the Billboard country singles chart 38 times
between 1967 and 1988 with songs including Okie From MuskogeeMama
 and The Fightin’ Side of Me. He won the ACM’s first
entertainer of the year award, in 1970, and the academy has named him its top
male vocalist a record-setting six times.
Bryan duets with Dierks Bentley on Working Man’s Poet,
singingPancho and Lefty, a Townes Van Zandt song that Haggard and Willie
Nelson took to the top of the country charts in 1983.
“The original had a Spanish-Mexican flair,” Bryan
says. “We took a real different approach with it.” Bryan and producer
Jeff Stevens envisioned the new version in the vein of Mumford & Sons,
“something with some edge that moves along pretty good. It’s an
interesting take.”
Aldean covers a pair of Haggard’s early ’80s songs, Going
Where the Lonely Go
 and Are the Good Times Really Over,
while Keith remakes the 1972 chart-topper Carolyn. Jake Owen, Randy
Houser, Thompson Square and Joe Nichols also contributed tracks.
Working Man’s Poet will be
available digitally through iTunes. Physical copies of the album, sold only at
Walmart, will include Brooks’ version of Haggard’s 1966 hit Tonight the
Bottle Let Me Down
, which also appeared on his recent box set for the
The set also includes two songs recorded by Haggard’s youngest
son, Ben Haggard, who plays guitar in his father’s band, The Strangers.
Previous winners of the Crystal Milestone Award include Aldean,
Brooks, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift.
The ACM Awards will air live on CBS (8 p.m. ET/tape delay PT)
from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Here’s the track listing for Working Man’s Poet: A
Tribute to Merle Haggard
  Misery and Gin,
Randy Houser
  Footlights, Joe
  Going Where the Lonely
, Jason Aldean
  Today I Started Loving
You Again
, Kristy Lee Cook
  Carolyn, Toby Keith
  Pancho and Lefty,
Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley
  Tonight the Bottle Let
Me Down
, Garth Brooks (Walmart edition only)
  You Take Me for Granted,
Thompson Square
  Mama Tried, Ben
  That’s the Way Love
, Dustin Lynch
  Make Up and Faded Blue
, Jake Owen
  I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,
James Wesley
  Workin’ Man Blues,
  Are the Good Times
Really Over
, Jason Aldean
  Let’s Chase Each Other
Around the Room
, Thompson Square
  I Think I’ll Just Stay
Here and Drink
, Dustin Lynch
  The Fightin’ Side of Me,
James Wesley
  My Favorite Memory,
Joe Nichols
  Ramblin’ Fever,
Randy Houser

  Sing Me Back Home,
Ben Haggard

Marty Martel for Country Music News International

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