R.I.P., Merle Haggard

A workin’ man finally clocks out. During one drink-and-drug-soaked road trip I played one of his “greatest hits” tapes so often that my copilot yanked it out of the deck and threw it out the window.

I let him live. I didn’t want to turn 21 in prison doing life without parole. ‘Cause Mama tried.



27 Responses to “R.I.P., Merle Haggard”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Lost a lot of good music people this year. They must be having one hell of a concert up there on the other side of the Pearly Gates.

  2. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    On a lighter note:

  3. khal spencer Says:

    Funny you should mention The Big House, Patrick. I didn’t realize that old Merle was a graduate of San Quentin State, as mentioned in that Tennessean story..

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    “The Outlaws” is the one that got my attention. A hard life, prison, heartbreak, and a old Telecaster can make some great musical storytelling.

  5. Mike Frye Says:

  6. Sharon Says:

    Silver Wings…

  7. larry brown Says:

    Though I’m a Jazz guy, I really liked Merle and the rest of the outlaws.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s OK to like both. I have Miles Davis, Lyle Lovett, Ornette Coleman and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the old CD collection.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Nitty Gritty and Doc Watson rings my bell. “The Tennessee Stud is long and lean, color of the sun and his eyes are green.” Bet Doc and Merle are jamming as we speak.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        My old college pals and I got to hang out with the Dirt Band now and then Back In the Day™; their road manager was kin to some of the Alamosa crowd, and so we usually had backstage passes.

        I’ve lost track of how many times I saw ’em perform. Dudes always put on a helluva show. I got to meet Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine and some other luminaries at their 20th-anniversary gig at McNichols in Denver.

        Speaking of John Prine, The New York Times caught up with him recently and as a consequence we get to catch up, too. I hope he stays with us for a while yet. Dude has traveled a mighty rough road.

  8. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Hmmmm…but what about “Okie from Muskogee”? The words to that one aren’t exactly PO’G PC I would think. As I read ’em again they seem more in the Ted Cruz camp. Is ol’ Merle beatin’ up hippies there in heaven with Jeebus?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ol’ Merle’s political positions evolved over the years, Larry. You could see it as early as “Fighting Side of Me,” which was still a hippie-puncher but also showing signs of discontent with Bidness As Usual.

      Plus, even an old hippie has to admit that those were some good goddamn songs.

      Check out this remembrance from David A. Graham at The Atlantic.

      • carl b duellman jr Says:

        i have heard that that song was supposed to be a joke, as it was written on the tour bus while burning a fatty. however, the working folks took it serious.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        I wondered if the thing was a tongue-in-cheek deal but too many rednecks took it seriously and made it the first thing I think of about ol’ Merle.
        On the other hand there were a lot of good songs back when it was country and/or western…George Jones, Conway Twitty and all of ’em

        • Sharon Says:

          He and Willie Nelson have been best friends for many, many years. I think he evolved way past his Oklahoma start.

  9. John ONeill Says:

    Best of the Best of was a hell of a 8 track tape.
    Not that I don’t listen to Hip Hop and Rap also but I do miss real music. May have to listen to Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen on the drive to work.

  10. khal spencer Says:

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oh, yeah, that’s a keeper. “Sam Stone,” too. Also, “Please Don’t Bury Me,” “Illegal Smile” and “Donald and Lydia.” And pretty much ever’thang else what he ever wrote.

      Don’t get me started on his old pal Steve Goodman, now. …

      • khal spencer Says:

        Not sure how someone writes so well about stuff so far into the future. Wish I was a tenth as smart.

  11. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Listen to Jimmy Fadden blow that harp and Doc Watson giving a flat picking lesson.

  12. Medium Rick Says:

    “They sound tired but they don’t sound Haggard. They’ve got money but they ain’t got Cash. They’ve got junior but they ain’t got Hank”…

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