Appalachia Music

RIP Merle Haggard

Merle haggard fan

I grew up in a family of Merle Haggard fans. How can anyone deny the man’s musical genius? I believe his name was uttered with deep reverence in my home because as a musician he truly had it all. Haggard had a voice that arguably is among the best ever recorded, he had the guitar playing down too, but his appeal doesn’t quite stop there.

Haggard was often called The Poet of the Common Man. All one has to do is listen to his original songs to understand why.

The songs Haggard penned speak directly to the every day, hard working, trying to get ahead, life is sometimes a pain, Joe on the street. His songs are about real life.

The Deer Hunter and Tipper (early 90s)


The Deer Hunter and Tipper (early 90s)

Through the years I can trace my love of Haggard songs by the way they came packaged.

  • First there were the albums Paul and I listened to as kids. One day as we were digging the Merle tunes I said “You know we should invite him to come over.” Paul said “Yeah like why would he come here? He’s famous.” Even at that early age I had found the secret to Merle Haggard’s success. By listening to his songs I truly believed he must be just like us. And hey someone was always coming by to pick and grin with Pap so why not Merle?
  • Elementary school was made happier the day I got my first portable 8-track tape player. The teachers allowed me to bring it to school as long as it was only played during recess. One of Granny’s trips to Gainesville GA supplied my most popular 8-track for school, Merle’s Rainbow Stew album.
  • During my last year of high school I bought my first car and it had a cassette player. As most high school seniors I had all the angst about what to do with my life going round and round in my head. The Merle song that takes me back to those days-Momma Tried.
  • Most couples have a certain song or type of music that brings to mind the early days in their relationship. Without a doubt the courting days between The Deer Hunter and I were filled with the songs of Merle Haggard blaring from the cd player.

A few years ago when we first filmed one of my favorite Merle Haggard songs, Silver Wings, Paul joked that it almost seemed a sacrilege to put our version on youtube because no matter how many times we did it our attempt would never even get close to the original.

I love playing Silver Wings because  it’s one of my favorite songs, but mostly I love knowing that as kids Paul and I sat around in the floor and listened to Merle sing it and here we are as adults playing it ourselves.

For this Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot Silver Wings written by Merle Haggard.

I posted portions of this post a few years back and decided to re-post it since Merle Haggard died earlier this week. I’ve got too many favorite Merle Haggard songs to narrow it down to just one, but you can check this link out to hear a few of my favorites: Merle Medley.



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  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Concerning your Merle Haggard memorial, I attempted to listen to your Merle Medley. Alas! Due to copyright complaints the video has been taken down. Could you, some day in the future, simply send me a list of the songs you had posted on the “Merle Medley” on YouTube? You have my email. Many thanks!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    April 11, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I enjoyed reading your tribute to Merle Haggard and the comments from all those who have posted thus far today. He was an artist, indeed. So glad for his songs that will continue to live on.

  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    April 11, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I moved to Los Angeles California when I joined the U. S. Marines in 1955. I will be Merle’s age in September of this year. I have seen him so many times over the years, more than I can count. Bakersfield is about two hours from my home in Santa Monica Ca. I fell in love with the Kern River a long time ago. Merle’s home was on the river just out of the city. Every time I was about to drive by I would pull over to the shoulder of the road, “Pop” the top on a cold one and drink a toast to the greatest Country Singer, Songwriter of my time. He later recorded “I’ll never swim Kern River again” a song of lost love, one of my favorites. “That’s the way Love goes,” by Lefty Frizell, and “The way I am,” by another writer whose name I forget are great. Also Merle commented on the song “If I could only fly,” by another ,as possibly the best in many years. We will miss a great artist. Someone will write a tribute song. Are you listening Kris Kristofferson?

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    April 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    I saw Loretta Lynn last night. She spoke briefly about her deep friendship with Merle Haggard. She said his passing was BAD. And she felt bad. Then she cried. And my daughter and I cried too.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    April 10, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    He was a man who, thanks to some good friends who believed in him, got a second chance at turning his life around, and did. That’s certainly something to be proud of.
    RIP Merle Haggard, RIP!!!
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 10, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    When I first moved to Atlanta and worked for Davidson-Kennedy Co., we bought a 4 track CD player and installed in in our car. We played Johnny Rivers, Merle Haggard, and Charlie Pride whenever we were in the car. Those were our favorites! I wish I still had the 4 track player, now they’re extent.
    But our local radio station, now all gospel all the time, played Merle Haggard Hymns a lot the day he died. They announced that Merle told his son he thought he’d die on his birthday, and he did…Ken

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    April 10, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    He was a great musician and performer! I grew up with my Dad listening to Merle on the radio. When I was a teenager I went to a park in Ohio for the day with my best friend and her family. There were a lot of country music singers and groups there performing. My best friend Sue and I were walking around over by the concession stand and a man walked by and said “hello girls”. That man was Merle Haggard! We couldn’t believe it! He will be missed but will leave a legacy of music that will never die.
    Love the photo of you and Deer Hunter! You look like kids. I can’t believe how much Chitter and Chatter look like you!

  • Reply
    John Faircloth
    April 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Merle…a voice for the ages. Thank you Lord.

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    April 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Paul and Jerry doing “Silver Wings” is as good a version of that song as I’ve ever heard.
    I was twelve years old when Hank Williams died, and it seemed as if a family member had died. It still affects me. Hank was also called the common man’s poet.
    I see lots of similarities in the lives of Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Thomas Wolfe, and Edgar Allen Poe that I believe partly resulted from their not having a father figure during their adolescent years.
    I was never able to see Hank Williams in person, but I’ve seen Merle Haggard several times. It was always good. May he rest in peace.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 10, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I remember when I was working at a restaurant as a dish washer during high school. One evening as I walked in to work Merle was on the jute box and just as I walked under the drive-in awning Merle boomed out, “Here comes that workin’ man.” The timing was perfect and I had to smile, knowing it didn’t really fit.
    He sang a song on the TV show “Songs of the Civil War” that I have tried to find ever since. The only line I remember is “My captain is a soldier….”

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 10, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    The pictures are great…Loved “Silver Wings” too…
    Already hunting all my cassettes, vinyl’s and CD’s by Merle…They have been scattered here and there with the changing of devices to play them on…ha
    I just think that Merle just might have come by for some picking and singing if he was close by! I wish you had wrote him a letter….but then I guess you were still a bit bashful! ha
    Thanks for this post…
    PS I liked his gospel music too…

  • Reply
    April 10, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Merle will truly be missed,, his music spoke to many with different life experiences.. I quess because Merle was common in his style is why he connected to so many.. Many a tale has been shared through out my wifes’s family thru her Uncles travels with the Band, like when they were touring and Gordon and Merle wrote a song that George Strait recorded My Life’s been Grand and turned out to be a hit… As matter a fact his last home place was purchased from Merle in Palaski Tenn.. But we still have his Music and I believe that is what he wanted to leave behind, for all of his fans now and in the future..

  • Reply
    April 10, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Willie’s Roadhouse, on Sirius Radio, has dedicated several hours and days to Merle since his passing. Each time I get in my car, listeners are calling in with stories of meeting him. He was so down-to-earth, I bet he would have come by to pick with Pap if he had been invited.
    When I first got married, my mother-in-law came to live with us for a short time after divorcing her husband. She had a collection of Merle albums and wore them out daily. I thought Sing Me Back Home was the saddest song I ever heard and tried to find a reason to be outside or gone when the music started. I was young and more into rock and roll than country music at that time and despised the sad songs coming out of the stereo. I still love 50s and 60s music but find myself listening to classic country more than anything else.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    April 10, 2016 at 9:09 am

    My earliest memory is of my Dad shaving on Sunday morning before church listening to the “Pride in what I am” album. Yes, album. That album cover is forever vivid in my mind.
    He was a poet of the common man. I can’t count the times since college I have relied on the line ‘I take a lot of pride in what I am.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 10, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Tip, that’s a very sweet picture of you and the Deer Hunter and I use the word sweet very deliberately. There is such a sweetness in both of you that shines through that picture and through everything you both do. I’m so glad my son found you!
    I listened to the Merle Medley link and was reminded of that wonderful strong voice he had. He was a living legend and he will be missed.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    April 10, 2016 at 8:09 am

    With Merle’s passing not so long after George Jones makes me think of George’s recording of Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes classic “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” and the line in Tom T. Hall’s “I remember the day when Clayton Delaney died” that states “But it could be that the Good Lord likes a little picking too”.

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