Trailer of the Merle Haggard with Buffalo 

Waiting For A Train is a mainline track about the rails I rode with my friend and Legend Merle Haggard, and my twenty year passion to run down all I could dig up on Jimmie Rodgers.  It is about a quest  just riding that train called fate and destiny while digging up stories to connect the dots on the history of Show Business, from  Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Bing Crosby, Bessy Smith, Bob Wills,  and on to Willie  Nelson to Merle.  An Epic Saga to be told all leading to their train of influence that influenced the likes of Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Garth Brooks, Kacey Musgraves, George Strait, Tanya Tucker so many  others even in rock, pop, cosmic Americana, country and western, to the Blues.

This Memoir of Me and Merle actually began in 1997, when I told Willie Nelson I was working on a film on Jimmie Rodgers.  Willie took a hit, leaned over and looked right into my eyes and said, "If you want to know something about Jimmie Rodgers you need to talk to Merle Haggard"...thus the Saga of Waiting For a Train with Merle Haggard and Jimmie Rodgers began there on Willie's bus two decades ago... Right here you can ride the main tracks and side tracks that Merle and I rode from 2003 to 2016, and now beyond...

Six years later Merle and I meet. After dang near a year of being vetted and doing hoop dances Merle approves of working with me doing a couple of interviews for the Jimmie Rodgers Saga.  During the first year of filming on and off while traveling with Merle and his band I have enough video including past interviews on Rodgers with Les Paul, Kris Kristofferson, Tanya Tucker, Aaron Neville and others to show Merle a DVD trailer.  He tells me to come on his Santa Fe Super Chief bus telling his driver to not let anyone on the bus for a few hours.  After watching the trailer he asks me, "Do you want to help me with my movie.

Jimmie Rodgers is the only entertainer that is in the Country, Rock, Blues, Songwriter and Grammy Halls of Fame, and also received the W.C. Handy Blues Award and the Life Time Achievement Grammy and is known as the Father of Country Music.  Merle was greatly influenced by Jimmie and did a tribute album to him as did Lefty Frizzell, Bob Dylan, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and many more.   Go to for more on "The Man That Started It All."



with Merle Haggard and Jimmie Rodgers

Over the years filming Merle I have garnished over 3 terabytes of HD tape that has all been digitized on Merle Haggard and a number of thousands of still pictures.  I might have been born yesterday, but I stayed up late last night.  I knew all along how valuable this was at the same time working my ass off to have the film to tell the story Merle wanted and deserved to have told... My camera is faster than the pen documenting the incredible world that I was living in and experiences I was having with the living legend MERLE HAGGARD.

Both Rodgers' and Haggard's dads worked for the Railroad, Jimmie is known as the "Singing Brakeman" from his years working the rail as a brakeman and switchman.  I just so happened to work for the Santa Fe Railroad during High School and College and still get Railroad pension... As a creator/producer of I aim to make this one of the best train movies showing the power of the iron horse.

Forgot where I read, or heard that we are all born in the middle of a story in history then spend a good part of our life trying to figure out where we came in.  Willie Nelson said, “My dreams are dreaming me.”Jimmie Rodgers has been a passion that has possessed me for a few decades and led me to running with Merle Haggard for the last twelve years of his life, and now their Saga is written in the first two of a three chronicle memoir WAITING FOR A TRAIN with MERLE HAGGARD and JIMMIE RODGERS.  

photographer & pal Richard Bastian

If  "Every picture tells a story, don't it" and/or if "A picture is a thousand words" I have have a huge tale to tell about a decade running down many highways with Merle Haggard.. My memoir trilogy # 2 is 300 pages and is the manu-Script for the docuseries and/or  the movie.  I envision myself as the teller of tales in the Saga of Haggard and Rodgers.  What I wrote is what I filmed.  What I wrote was what I saw through the lens from behind the camera.  

Picture by Chris Felver

Trailer of the Jimmie Rodgers with Buffalo 

The only film footage of Jimmie Rodgers

Rolling Stone Magazine in their June 2017, issue announced Merle Haggard as No. 1 on their list of the Top 100 Country Artist of All Time, pushing the reining Hank Williams to No. 2, and saying, “His story, like his music, was an American epic, shot through with improbability, struggle, sin, and redemption.”  They noted: “From architects of the genre like Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers to game-changers Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert and Shania Twain.”  I would venture to say his boots will not be filled for many decades if not centuries. 


Past year plus I've been working most of the days and nights in the assembly of all my notes, pictures, journals, calendars, more notes, research, digital footage of the miles that I traveled, phone notes, emails, memorabilia that I saved from the shows, tape recordings, and just finding things in my memory from now back through the dust I have kicked up and gathered over the past few decades tracking Jimmie Rodgers... all leading me to knowing Merle Haggard.

Many times I would be setting with Merle, we would be talking about something and I would blink my eyes and all of a sudden I had feelings of being STAR STRUCK...OR, STRUCK BY A STAR with the realization.  My God, this is fucking Merle Haggard setting here in this private jet, or on this bus, or standing somewhere with another icon, or in his Hummer riding on his ranch or to the store in Redding, or to LuLu's for lunch.  Then I would blink again and we would go on talking...

We talked a lot together.  I remember that for sure.  In an interview on camera with interviewer Chuck Banner Merle said about me:   

Chuck: Merle, when did you meet ole Benford?
Merle: “I have been knowing him about 10 to 12 years. When I ran into Benford, I realized that he was in a search for all the information he could find. Seems like every time we get together we end up in the same area, something about country music history. He is a history buff and I guess I am too...I enjoy digging out the truth of what really occurred. Benford is one of those kind of people also."

Want to invite you to visit

Three railroad men, one a writer and two past music legend's who's story tells the saga of the history of show business from the late 1880tys to 2016, from medicine shows to vaudeville, records to radio, movies to television to the Internet and beyond.


All pictures and film are the property of Benford Standley and Buffalo Benford Multimedia LLC