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HARDY's Joe Diffie Tribute Album Includes Toby Keith's Final Recorded Vocal

Photo: Getty Images

HARDY delivered his latest HIXTAPE installment on Friday (March 29), paying tribute to late country legend Joe Diffie on the fourth anniversary of his death with the star-studded project.

HIXTAPE: Vol. 3: DIFFTAPE features more than two dozen artists: Aaron Tippin, Blake Shelton, Chris Young, Clint Black, Darius Rucker, Hailey Whitters, Jack Ingram, Kameron Marlowe, Toby Keith, Koe Wetzel, Lauren Watkins, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Mark Wills, Nate Smith, Old Dominion, Post Malone, Randall King, Reba McEntire, and Sammy Kershaw; in addition to returning artists Brooks & Dunn, ERNEST, HARDY, Jake Worthington, Jon Pardi, Lainey Wilson, Larry Fleet, Randy Houser, Morgan Wallen, and Tracy Lawrence. Diffie’s vocals blend with Combs’ and Keith’s on “Ships That Don’t Come in,” which marks “Keith's final recorded vocal before his passing in February,” per a press release issued Thursday evening (March 28) ahead of the album’s release. The “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” icon, who is set to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year, died on February 5 after a years-long battle with stomach cancer. He was 62.

  1. “John Deere Green (Joe Diffie, Morgan Wallen, HARDY)”
  2. “Pickup Man (Joe Diffie, Post Malone)”
  3. “Ships That Don't Come In (Joe Diffie, Toby Keith, Luke Combs)”
  4. “Third Rock From The Sun (Joe Diffie, Blake Shelton, HARDY, Brooks & Dunn)”
  5. “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If I Die) (Joe Diffie, Tracy Lawrence, Lainey Wilson, The Difftones)”
  6. “Bigger Than The Beatles (Joe Diffie, Jon Pardi, Old Dominion)”
  7. “Honky Tonk Attitude (Joe Diffie, Luke Bryan, Randy Houser)”
  8. “Is It Cold In Here (Joe Diffie, Reba McEntire, Jake Worthington)”
  9. “Texas Size Heartache (Joe Diffie, Clint Black, Larry Fleet)”
  10. “Home (Joe Diffie, Darius Rucker, Hailey Whitters)”
  11. “C-O-U-N-T-R-Y (Joe Diffie, Aaron Tippin, ERNEST)”
  12. “So Help Me Girl (Joe Diffie, Mark Wills, Nate Smith)”
  13. “New Way (To Light Up An Old Flame) (Joe Diffie, Randall King, Sammy Kershaw)”
  14. “If The Devil Danced In Empty Pockets (Joe Diffie, Jack Ingram, Koe Wetzel)”
  15. “A Night To Remember (Joe Diffie, Lauren Watkins, Kameron Marlowe)”
  16. “In Another World (Joe Diffie, Chris Young)”
  17. “Life Had Plans For Me (Joe Diffie, HARDY, Parker Diffie)”

HARDY revealed his latest HIXTAPE project would pay tribute to Diffie — who died on March 29, 2020 at age 61 — backstage at the 57th annual CMA Awards hosted in November at Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee. That night, he also teamed up with Morgan Wallen and Post Malone on stage to perform a surprise tribute to Diffie, including his early 1990s hit “John Deere Greene,” followed by “Pickup Man.” Host Luke Bryan introduced the performance with Diffie’s eldest son, Parker Diffie. “John Deere Green,” appearing on HIXTAPE, released on the song’s 30th anniversary.

“I'm honored that we get to be a small part of the legacy of Joe Diffie with DIFFTAPE,” HARDY said in a statement of the Joey Moi-produced project in the release on Thursday. “The thing I've always admired about Joe's catalog is the quality of the songs. He had an unbelievable ear for hits, and I love that we got this cast together to celebrate them.”

The only unreleased original track to appear on DIFFTAPE is “Life Had Plans For Me,” featuring Diffie’s vocals with HARDY and Parker. Parker said in a statement: “As someone who had the profound privilege of performing alongside my father, it fills my heart with immense joy to witness his enduring legacy continued with the same passion and fervor that he embodied. he release of HIXTAPE: Vol. 3: DIFFTAPE is an opportunity to not only celebrate the past but also to embrace the future with reverence and enthusiasm. The song 'Life Had Plans For Me' holds a special place in my heart, as it symbolizes the culmination of a journey filled with memories, love, and music. To have the chance to perform alongside my father one last time is an indescribable and deeply meaningful experience.”

Diffie was featured “Redneck Tendencies” on HARDY’s first HIXTAPE, along with Trace Adkins, installment in September 2019. The second installment followed in 2021. Listen to “Ships That Don’t Come In” from DIFFTAPE here:

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