Merle Haggard died on Wednesday at age 79.
Juli Thanki writes for The Tennessean:
Over the length of his half-century career, Mr. Haggard recorded 38 No. 1 country singles and wrote some of the genre’s most revered classics, which have been recorded by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, The Byrds, Vince Gill, The Grateful Dead and countless others.
“Merle Haggard‘s reach knew no bounds,” said Jay Orr, a historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Orr also noted that Mr. Haggard so embodied country music that the museum’s core exhibit, “Sing Me Back Home,” takes its title from a chart-topping song he released in 1968.
Mr. Haggard’s life, which took him from a San Quentin prison cell to the Country Music Hall of Fame, was a truly American success story.
“In some ways, his life sounds like fiction, but if it were fiction, no one would believe it,” said Harris on the night of his Hall of Fame induction.
Thanki’s piece is the strongest one I’ve seen covering Haggard’s life and impact. Aside from Willie Nelson, there isn’t another man in country music in the same league of Haggard who still walks the earth today. The ones who come close – Alan Jackson and Randy Travis – owe him a debt for a good chunk of their sound and songwriting.
Here are some Haggard highlights from the Country Universe archives:
In the coming days, I’ll be sharing my favorite songs of Haggard’s, and Leeann will share her favorite covers of Merle Haggard songs.
Please use this thread to share your favorite Haggard songs, stories, concerts and the like.