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Merle Haggard and his good friend and songwriting partner Max D. Barnes co-wrote the song “Way Back in the Mountains” more than 20 years ago.


Now, sons Marty Haggard and Max T. Barnes have released a new version of the track, along with an accompanying video, as a tribute to their late fathers. Their rendition can be found on Max T.’s latest album, “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead.”

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In this clip, the sons, who are accomplished singer-songwriters in their own right, appear young at heart, while honoring their legendary fathers from Max T.’s Tennessee ranch. Fans may note that a portion of the video includes home footage of Merle and Max D. playing “Way Back in the Mountains” alongside each other on guitar.

“We were just sitting around reminiscing about our dads and Max T. told me he remembered this song,” Marty recalls during an interview with Rare Country. “He called me later on and said he found an old tape of our dads sitting in the house playing it. I said, ‘I think we could use that in the beginning of the video.’”

The video is proof that Marty and Max T. share a close kinship similar to the one their fathers had. But, Marty will tell you that he actually introduced his father to the elder Max, who died in 2004.

“I knew my dad was going to like him,” Marty says. “Me and Max D. are a lot more alike than me and my dad. I have a silly streak and my dad was pretty serious. Max D. is sort of like a second dad to me, and Max T. is like a brother. So, it was a perfect fit.”

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Although Marty says his personality matches up to the Barnes’, his love for his dad is very strong. So much so that he can’t wait to reunite with his father. When he does, he hopes to have more conversations with Merle, who passed away back in April of 2016.

“Dad was a mystery man. He experienced a very tough life and it made him a man of very few words when it came to talking,” Marty says, “I think the only source of an outlet that he had was his songwriting. That’s why I can’t wait to get to heaven, where my dad is. He now knows how to say what he was only able to sing here.”

Nashville-based writer and Rare Country contributor Melinda Lorge has always been passionate about country music. Follow her @MelindaLorge and join the conversation @RareCountry.
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