A year ago today, we lost the country music legend Merle Haggard at 79 years old. Today, on what also would’ve been his 80th birthday, Willie Nelson shared the final song from his new album, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” a heartbreaking tribute to his late friend.
Ruminating on titles of Haggard’s hit songs and mortality, the song is a gentle, touching treatise on his career and huge additions to country music: “When it comes to country music, he’s the world. And it wouldn’t be all it is without Merle,” Nelson sings. You can hear the pain in his voice, and the video has some poignant little moments. Judging from this song, and the previous single “It Gets Easier,” his new album is going to be an emotional ride. 2017, please don’t take Willie.
God’s Problem Child will be released on April 28, a day before Nelson turns 84. You can preorder it here, check out the new song/video above, and watch Nelson perform a song he and Haggard named an album after, “Pancho and Lefty,” via the Paste Cloud player below.