Merle Haggard passed away one year ago today. This is what I wrote as a memorial to him on my Facebook page:
“I never been nobody’s idol,
but at least I’ve got a title.
And I take a lot of pride in what I am.”
RIP, Merle Haggard.
He was that rare breed of country music performer who was completely authentic, because he lived the life that was in his lyrics. When he sang about prison, he was credible because he’d done time. When he sang about poverty, you believed him because he grew up during the Great Depression. When he excoriated the anti-war crowd, he was persuasive because he was a patriot, in spite of running afoul of the system.
He did not sugar-coat the heartaches and the failures that are so common to the journey of life; as do the country singers of today. He pulled them out from under his bed and revealed them to us, and we all listened together with earnest intensity. We laughed, we loved, we wept and we hoped for something better, because we realized that we were listening to a great teacher who himself had been a tragic student in the school of human pain.
Thank you, Merle, for all you have given to the world of country music. You can go on now, brother, and sing me back home when you get there.