Yesterday’s Wine: Merle Haggard

Your presence is welcome with me and my friend here.
This is a hangout of mine.
We come here quite often and listen to music
Partaking of yesterday’s wine.

(from “Yesterday’s Wine,” written by Willie Nelson, performed by George Jones and Merle Haggard as a duet, and by Willie Nelson)

Above: The inimitable Merle Haggard at the Austin Music Hall on Wednesday night. Tracie B surprised me with tickets!

With the awesome show we saw on Wednesday night in Austin, Tracie B and I have fulfilled two panels in our “Yesterday’s Wine” triptych, Willie Nelson, George Jones, and Merle Haggard (we saw Willie in October and so we’re just missing George Jones now). We had a blast: he played a lot of the hits, including “Okie from Muskogee,” “I Think I’ll Just Sit Here and Drink,” “If We Make It through December,” and “Are the Good Times Really Over.” It was amazing to think about how apropos the latter two are today, with the economy in tatters and the future uncertain:

    I wish coke was still cola,
    And a joint was a bad place to be.
    And it was back before Nixon lied to us all on TV.
    Before microwave ovens,
    When a girl could still cook and still would.
    Is the best of the free life behind us now?
    Are the good times really over for good?

    Are we rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell?
    With no kind of chance for the Flag or the Liberty bell.

Above: Isn’t she a doll?

In other news…

I had some of the best ragù (not counting Tracie B’s) I’ve had in a long time at Samson’s in McKinney (north Dallas) where I was traveling for work. Served over potato gnocchi, it had just the right consistency and balance of sweet, savory, and fatty flavors. Chefs and brothers Samuele Minin (who makes the gnocchi) and Germano Minin (who makes the ragù) are from Udine (Friuli) and they really know what they’re doing. Paired wonderfully with 2006 Langhe Nebbiolo by Produttori del Barbaresco, which is simply singing right now. Life could be worse… especially when you’re on the company dime!

Yesterday’s wine: Willie Nelson at the Backyard

Miracles appear in the strangest of places…

Above: no synthesizers allowed… Willie played with a piano player, bass, drums, percussion, and harmonica. He played all the guitar himself on that same old acoustic guitar he’s used on all his albums. Man, that dude can play the guitar. I love his signature chromatic scales in his solos.

A week ago yesterday, Tracie B and I went to see Willie Nelson on the closing night of Austin’s storied concert venue, the Backyard. (Click here for a story about the closing of this legendary concert “shed.” I love what the reporter wrote: “Most folks say if the backyard does re-open elsewhere they’ll likely go, but it won’t be the same.”)

He played nearly all my favorites, including Yesterday’s Wine, one of his many greats, which was also recorded as a duet by George Jones and Merle Haggard (a great version):

    Yesterday’s wine, I’m yesterday’s wine
    Aging with time, like yesterday’s wine

I don’t know much about Willie’s palate (although I do know that he and I share a predilection for another indulgence). But, like analog wine in a digital age, his songbook has evolved gracefully over the years, with the nuanced notes of a classic American composer — just like yesterday’s wine… One of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life.

Above: “Ain’t you glad we ain’t all California girls/Ain’t you glad there’s still a few of us left/That know how to rock your world” (Gretchen Wilson). Tracie B and Jeremy P at Willie last Sunday.


In other news…

Do Bianchi is rarely a forum for political views but something I witnessed Friday compels me to ask my Californian sisters and brothers to please vote NO on Proposition 8. Drivers-by hurled insults at the woman in the photo (left) and the other protesters who lined Adams St. around the corner from Jaynes Gastropub.

Proposition 8, which would outlaw gay marriage in California, “is discrimination,” it’s un-American, and it’s just plain wrong. At the restaurant on Saturday, I waited on a super nice couple who recently got married (they drank Il Poggione 2006 Rosso di Montalcino): the vote will be close, they told me, and every vote will count.


Miracles appear in the strangest of places
Fancy meeting you here
The last time I saw you was just out of Houston
Sit down, let me buy you a beer

Your presence is welcome with me and my friend here
This is a hangout of mine
We come here quite often and listen to music
Partaking of yesterday’s wine

Yesterday’s wine, I’m yesterday’s wine
Aging with time, like yesterday’s wine
Yesterday’s wine, we’re yesterday’s wine
Aging with time, like yesterday’s wine

You give the appearence of one widely travelled
I’ll bet you’ve seen things in your time
So sit down beside me and tell me your story
If you think you’ll like yesterday’s wine