Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Merle Haggard, Country’s Outlaw Hero, Is Dead at 79

Even if you weren't a country fan, growing up in the 1970s made it hard not to love Merle Haggard. While he had 71 Top 10 and 38 No. 1 singles on the country charts -- including "Workin' Man Blues" and "If We Make It Through December" -- seven of them crossed over to the pop charts, which was not common in those days. Talk shows were ubiquitous when I was a kid, and you could always count on seeing Merle belting out a ditty about his broken heart or broken life. The New York Times recalls that he wrote about his scuffling early life and defied the conventions of the Nashville establishment in building the twangy Bakersfield sound. Read his fascinating NYT obituary -- which details his time in San Quentin and subsequent pardon from California Gov. Ronald Reagan -- HERE.

My girl Rosanne Cash covered a couple of his songs over the years, including "Silver Wings" and "You Don't Have Very Far to Go." They're sublime, and both seem so fitting for this moment. 

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