I knew this day was coming sooner or later. But I have been dreading it. Country music uber-legend Merle Haggard has died at the age of 79. In fact, he died today (Wednesday) on his 79th birthday!
I have a top five list of country artists of all time. Four of the five are now gone. Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, George Jones, and of course, my all time favorite Hank Williams. Only Charley Pride remains from my top five.
I have been a diehard Merle Haggard fan since I was probably 4 years old. My Dad and Mom had a few Haggard albums, and being the music fanatic that I was and AM, I listened to his albums. I fell in love with the great songs of his. His word crafting was unlike anything I had heard before. You could picture what was happening in the song by listening to Merle’s words.
What is my favorite Merle Haggard song? That’s easy.
And a very close second is this song.
I would have to say “TIED FOR SECOND” is this classic.
In my 25 years of radio, I played hundreds upon hundreds of Merle Haggard songs. Even when he was releasing songs that would never have the chance of topping the charts, I played them. He had a song around 1994 called “In My Next Life” which still brings tears to my eyes. In fact, I just played that song in my car a week ago or so. I’ll try and find the video of the song.
One of my greatest concert moments ever was back around 1990 when I went to Bismarck, ND and saw, are you ready for this, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Conway Twitty….ALL IN THE SAME SHOW….It was an unreal concert experience.
And what a good lookin’ man. Check out this early early photo of Merle when he started on Tally Records back in the 60’s.
Merle Haggard, you always tipped your hat to us, your fans, but today, we tip our hats to you.
My heart breaks because a legendary voice has been stifled. My heart breaks because there will be no new music by this icon. My heart breaks because generations after this will never experience “Merle live in concert” like many of us have. I have no doubt in my heart that Merle Haggard will live on the same way Hank Williams and Patsy Cline have over the past decades. History, especially country music history, will be very very kind and loving, to a kind, gentle, and loving man. WE LOVE YOU MERLE HAGGARD!!
OK…it’s video time.
Watch this video. This is Merle on the Glen Campbell show doing his impersonations. He was terrific at this!
Here is my all time favorite song by Merle.
This next song gives me chills.
And here’s the song that I mentioned above. Maybe one of the reasons that “In My Next Life” hits me so hard is that it’s about small farm America. And all of us in the Dakota’s know all about that.