10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments

February 7, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  65 Comments

merle-haggard-001Merle. The Hag. Of all the country music greats, Merle’s story might be the most symbolic of the American experience: from growing up in California as the son of Okie parents during The Depression, to spending time in prison, to becoming a rags to riches story. His legacy is sometimes overshadowed by his peers like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, whose influence has spread much farther than country’s borders. But when it comes to influencing country music itself, few this side of Hank Williams can say they’ve left a bigger footprint.

Here’s 10 moments that make Merle Haggard one of country music’s most preeminent badasses.

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1. Being Born In A Boxcar

Merle's converted boxcar home. bakersfieldcalifornian-com

Merle’s boxcar home after his father slowly converted it into a house. bakersfieldcalifornian.com

Now if that ain’t country….

James Francis and Flossie Mae Haggard moved from Oklahoma during The Depression after their barn burned down in 1934, and settled in an apartment in Bakersfield with Merle’s two older siblings Lowell and Lillian. Merle’s father got a job working for the Santa Fe Railroad as a carpenter, and soon went to work converting a boxcar parked on a piece of land in Oildale, CA, just outside of Bakersfield that eventually became the family’s homestead. Merle Haggard was born in that boxcar on April 6, 1937. The Haggard’s eventually purchased the land around the boxcar, and expanded it to include two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a breakfast nook.

2. Telling Off A CBS Records Executive for Firing Johnny Cash

merle-haggard-kern-riverIn 1985 Merle released the song “Kern River” and it reached #10 on the country charts. But if it was up to CBS Records executive Rick Blackburn, the song would have never been recorded at all. Blackburn hated the song, and apparently went out of his way to tell Merle as much at every opportunity he had. Then at some point, Merle had enough. Blackburn mouthed off to Merle about it, and Merle lost it.

“That’s about the third time you’ve told me that.” Haggard said, “It’s more like five times. Well, I’m about five times short of telling you to go to hell.”

Then Haggard continued:

“Who do you think you are? You’re the son-of-a-bitch that sat at that desk over there and fired Johnny Cash. Let it go down in history that you’re the dumbest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.”

3. Watching Johnny Cash Play at San Quentin Prison

Johnny Cash’s most famous prison appearances were in 1968 and 1969 at the Folsom State Prison and San Quentin Prison, but these concerts weren’t the first time Johnny Cash played at a correctional institution. His first ever was New Years Day 1958 at San Quentin in California, and a 20-year-old Merle Haggard was in the audience. After a few other run-ins with the law, being arrested for the first time at age 11,  and after having participated in multiple of jailbreaks (see below), Merle Haggard got sentenced to 15 years for burglary in 1957 to the notorious California lockup. He was just 18.

Merle ended up only serving two years of his sentence though, in part because the Johnny Cash concert changed his life. At the time, Haggard was conspiring with his cell mate “Rabbit” on an escape plan, but Merle’s fellow cell mates convinced him he had a brighter future in country music. Rabbit eventually did escape, killed a cop, and ending back at San Quentin on Death Row.

“He had the right attitude,” Merle recalls of Johnny Cash;s appearance. “He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards—he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan.”

4. Escaping From Jail 17 Times

That’s right. As impossible as that sounds, this is what Merle Haggard claims. His criminal record over the years has been a source of much debate about just how hardened the young Merle was. More than likely most of his crimes were quite petty hooliganism stuff, and were bred out of growing up and not having a father to keep him in line, and not having any money and resorting to stealing for his daily bread. But apparently he became pretty adept at giving the local jailers the slip, and that’s why he eventually ended up at San Quentin.

“I was scared to death,” Merle recalls. “I was just 19 at the time, and I’d already been in a lot of jails. San Quentin is the last place you go. I wasn’t really that bad a guy. They just couldn’t hold me anywhere else. I escaped 17 different times, so they sent me there because I was an escape risk. When I walked out on the grounds of San Quentin, I was scared. I was there two years and nine months.”

5. Recording Tribute Albums to Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills

merle-haggard-same-trail-different-time-jimmie-rodgersIt’s one thing to record a tribute album to one of the greats of country music’s past. It’s another to do it at the height of your professional career when your talent and attention could be more financially lucrative elsewhere.

After landing his first #1 hits “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “Branded Man,” and before releasing his big 1969 hits “Workin’ Man Blues” and “Okie From Muskogee,” Merle Haggard released the 1969 LP Same Train, A Different Time: A Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers — a massive, two-record tome of 25 Jimmie Rodgers songs recorded to critical acclaim. The project took a total of 6 months to complete and is given credit for a revitalization of interest in the Singing Brakeman’s career.

Same could be said for Bob Wills, when Merle made time to record and release A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World the very next year. Even more cool, Merle rustled up the last 6 remaining members of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys—Johnny Gimble, Alex Brashear, Johnnie Lee Wills, Eldon Shamblin, Tiny Moore, and Joe Holley—to participate in the record along with Haggard’s backing band The Strangers.

6. Kicking Cancer’s Ass

Merle Haggard was diagnosed with lung Cancer in May of 2008. Not wanting to make a big deal or publicity stunt out of the matter, he kept it hush hush. On November 3rd, 2008, Haggard had surgery to remove part of the upper lobe of his right lung that had a lemon-sized tumor growing on it. Five days later, he finally spilled the beans to the public about his diagnosis and treatment. Merle had been a smoker early in his life, and had quit cigarettes in 1991, and marijuana in 1995. But doctors said smoking had nothing to do with Merle’s condition.

How did Haggard pull through? Less than two months later he was playing shows at The Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. “I feel like I’ve extended my life,” Merle said at the time. “I’m in better shape than when I went in.”

7. The “Me and Crippled Soldiers Give a Damn” Protest Song

Merle Haggard has written and recorded many politically-charged songs over his career spanning both sides of the isle. From his conservative-leaning anthems like “Fighting Side of Me” and “Okie From Muskogee” (though he’s said this song was written to be a somewhat humorous portrait), to the more recent anti-war song “America First.” But “Me and Crippled Soldiers Give a Damn” might be his crowning, politically-charged moment.

Incensed by the Supreme Court’s decision to allow flag burning under the First Amendment, Merle penned this controversial tune in 1989 and tried to release it, but his label CBS Records refused. So Merle, determined to have the song see the light of day, bought himself out of the stipulations of his CBS contract simply so he could release the song. And just so nobody was confused of where Merle’s heart was in the matter, he gave all the proceeds from the song to the Disabled Veterans of America.

8. Recording Pancho & Lefty with Willie Nelson 

Merle Haggard isn’t known especially for being a legendary duet partner, but when he paired up with Willie Nelson in 1983 to record Pancho & Lefty whose title track is the famous Townes Van Zandt song, a strange magic ensued. The song “Pancho & Lefty” went straight to #1, and so did the album. It also launched another Top 10 hit, “Reasons to Quit,” written by Haggard. Willie & Merle went on to be named the Vocal Duo of the Year by the CMA in 1983.

9. Helping to Define The Bakersfield Sound

As the bean counters on Music Row out in Nashville decided that for country music to survive, strings and choirs needed to be added, and that they needed to “refine” the sound of this rural art form to appeal to older audiences, the country music rebels out in California said “screw that” and we’re slinging their telecasters around, playing way too loud, and pushing boundaries. Right beside Buck Owens at the forefront of this movement was Merle Haggard with his hard-driving, hard-edged sound, embellished by Ralph Mooney’s blaring steel guitar.

Not only did The Bakersfield Sound keep Nashville’s “Countrypolitan” in check, it also showed many of Bakersfield’s rock and roll neighbors in places like LA and San Francisco that country music could be cool, and next thing you know you have bands like The Byrds and The Grateful Dead cutting country records.

10. Recording 38 #1 Hits… 38 OF THEM!!!

  1. “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” (1966)
  2. “Branded Man” (1967)
  3. “Sing Me Back Home” (1968)
  4. “The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde” (1968)
  5. “Mama Tried” (1968)
  6. “Hungry Eyes” (1969)
  7. “Workin’ Man Blues” (1969)
  8. “Okie from Muskogee” (1969)
  9. “The Fightin’ Side of Me” (1970)
  10. “Daddy Frank” (1971)
  11. “Carolyn” (1971)
  12. “Grandma Harp” (1972)
  13. “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)” (1972)
  14. “I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me” (1972)
  15. “Everybody’s Had the Blues” (1973)
  16. “If We Make It Through December” (1973)
  17. “Things Aren’t Funny Anymore” (1974)
  18. “Old Man from the Mountain” (1974)
  19. “Kentucky Gambler” (1974)
  20. “Always Wanting You” (1975)
  21. “Movin’ On” (1975)
  22. “It’s All in the Movies” (1975)
  23. “The Roots of My Raising” (1975)
  24. “Cherokee Maiden” (1976)
  25. “Bar Room Buddies” (with Clint Eastwood) (1980)
  26. “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” (1980)
  27. “My Favorite Memory” (1981)
  28. “Big City” (1981)
  29. “Yesterday’s Wine” (with George Jones) (1982)
  30. “Going Where the Lonely Go” (1982)
  31. “You Take Me for Granted” (1982)
  32. “Pancho and Lefty” (with Willie Nelson) (1983)
  33. “That’s the Way Love Goes” (1983)
  34. “Someday When Things Are Good” (1984)
  35. “Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room” (1984)
  36. “A Place to Fall Apart” (with Janie Frickie) (1984)
  37. “Natural High” (1985)
  38. “Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star” (1987)

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65 Comments to “10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments”

  • Man, that’s awesome. Some of that I didn’t know. Main stream country music use to have a lot of characters with really interesting background stories.

    “We grew up in the suburbs and went to college” said most of Nashville.

    • That’s why the lyrics are moronic these days.

  • Keep these top 10’s coming!

  • Triggerman-

    what are your three favorite Merle Haggard albums?

    • Oh man, you’re putting me on the spot.

      I’d say “Mama Tried” for sure. “Swinging Doors” is really good, and so is the “Okie From Muskogee” live album. Of the newer stuff I really like “If I Could Only Fly.” The song “Bareback” is really underrated.

      The thing about Merle is I’ve always thought of him more as a song guy. He didn’t really embrace the album concept as someone like Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash did.

      • always been a fan of his music but i don’t own one album of his..never knew where to start. i really like Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills too, might have to track down those tribute albums.

        • Big City and Back to the Barrooms are great albums too….Misery and Gin is such an incredible song.

          • I would add ‘Strangers,’ ‘Back To The Barrooms,’ and ‘Serving 190 Proof’ as must listens.

        • Down Every Road boxset will solve this issue. It is amazing

      • “Mama Tried” is a great, great album. Definitely one that I can put on any time and enjoy.

      • I think “Back to the Barrooms” is his best album by far. I think it is one of the best country albums period. That said, I agree with you that the Hag was more of a song guy.

  • If country had a mount rushmore this man would have a legit argument to be included.

    His songs are something special. The man might be the 2nd best country songwriter behind Hank. His songs are so beautiful and invoke the human emotion so well.

    • Merle #2 in my mind as the most important figure in country music. Like Willie, he’s never had a real down period in his career like Waylon and Johnny. The Hag one of the most underrated artists.
      My Mt. Rushmore: 1. Willie Nelson 2. Merle Haggard 3. Johnny Cash 4. Waylon Jennings 5. George Strait

      • Come on, the point of the Mount Rushmore exercise is narrowing it down to 4, not 5! Surprised to see Hank Williams, Sr. not making the cut. For what it’s worth, mine would be Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Maybelle Carter and Willie Nelson.

        • That’s hilarious. I would have bet the farm there were 5 presidents on Mt. Rushmore!

  • A true legend, thats all there is to say. There ain’t nobody that will ever be able to fill them shoes.

  • The Poet of the Common Man, Mighty Merle…this man, ladies and gentlemen, is a songwriter. An older gentleman I used to pick guitar with loved loved loved Merle Haggard, and helped introduce me to a lot of his music (“Silver Wings” will always be a favorite). And Phil is right; country music used to be made up of characters (Roger Miller springs to mind). It’s a shame we ain’t seeing a lot of that anymore.

  • Great list Trigger and an awesome choice for your Top 10 moments article. It had been a few years since I’ve heard “Me and Crippled Soldiers” so I went back and read the lyrics. I don’t think we’ll ever see another main stream act put out a song that so blantantly calls out radicals for spitting on the very symbol that allows them to be radical. God Bless Mele Haggard. He is a true American treasure.

  • Did anyone mention that he did a duet with Clint Eastwood? True badassery.

    • Randy Travis also did a duet with Eastwood. That must be a rite of passage for true badassry.

      • “Honkytonk Man” with Clint Eastwood is a much-underrated country music movie.

        • Yeah, and it’s one of the most underrated Eastwood’s movies in general. It should have earned lots of awards.

  • I used to absolutely hate Merle Haggard. I thought he was a phony opportunist who simply played on cheap emotion with songs like “Okie from Muskogee” and “Fightin’ Side of Me”. But then in 1973 (yes I am THAT old) when I heard what he did in putting together and performing on the Bob Wills tribute album “For the Last Time” just prior to Bob lapsing into a coma and it made me see Merle in whole new light. I realized what a real love he had for music and the deep respect he holds for other musicians. I have and will always consider “For the Last Time” to be one of the greatest albums ever made of any genre. Not sure it is bad ass but so many other ways it is soooooooooooo freakin’ bad ass. Long live the Hag.

    • I try to persuade people that Haggard is more complex than they might initially think based on songs like “Okie,” and I think even that song can be interpreted in different ways. For example, when he sang the song with Blake Shelton on the Grammys it seemed more a like a good natured rib than a serious condemnation of anyone, much less the hippie pot smoker or political lefty standing beside him (Willie and Kristofferson respectively.) That’s more in keeping with the way that song is interpreted nowadays.

      Also there is he fact that had used to smoke pot himself, and was critical of the last war which on the surface at least seems to contradict “Fightin’ Side of Me,” though he may not see it that way.

      The one Haggard song I’m kind of puzzled by is “I’m a White Boy.” There’s nothing necessarily bigoted about it, I just wonder what he meant by it.

      • I think that Merle’s views today are very different than they were in the 60s. Back then, he was clearly a hawk and a cultural conservative. Here’s a candid quote from him regarding the inspiration behind “Okie from Muskogee”:

        “When I was in prison, I knew what it was like to have freedom taken away. Freedom is everything.

        During Vietnam, there were all kinds of protests. Here were these [servicemen] going over there and dying for a cause — we don’t even know what it was really all about. And here are these young kids, that were free, b—-ing about it. There’s something wrong with that and with [disparaging] those poor guys.

        We were in a wonderful time in America and music was in a wonderful place. America was at its peak and what the hell did these kids have to complain about? These soldiers were giving up their freedom and lives to make sure others could stay free.

        I wrote the song to support those soldiers.”

        As time has passed, his views have become more dovish and liberal. That’s probably why he is now somewhat embarrassed about “Okie from Muskogee” and wants people to believe that it was written in jest.

        • Thanks for the quote. I have heard that explanation of the song, and I have also heard him call it satire, or a tribute to his father’s generation, or some combination of the latter two. I think he retroactively changed his mind about the intent of the song as you said.

  • Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for this it sometimes seems as though Merle’s greatness is lost in this day and age. I contend that he is the greatest country songwriter of all time based on the fact that he solo wrote almost all of his biggest and best known hits.

    As for his life of crime I think I heard that the burglary that finally sent him to San Quentin was for breaking into a bar that was already OPEN. If I remember right he and his partner in crime broke into the back of the establishment while it was open. Not sure if that is badass but it’s kind of funny nonetheless.

    This guy has really lived the quintessential American life.

  • For the Bob Wills trbute album, I believe he learned how to play fiddle specifically for the project. That’s pretty badass.

  • I haven’t heard the Same Train Different Time album (just a few songs, but they’re all great), but A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World is a freaking masterpiece. Merle Haggard is an American treasure.

  • Probably the most badass thing Hag has done was mentor young musicians. Teach them the ropes, and honor the pioneers of country western past. Could you imagine a “superstar” in this day and age to actually give a damn about young talent, without having ulterior motives?

    • Including his son Ben Haggard.

  • To me Merle is the greatest singer-songwriter in country music history! Think of all the great Hag songs you could list that are not even on that list of 38 #1’s.

    • Like:

      Swinging Doors
      The Bottle Let Me Down
      I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am
      If We’re Not Back In Love By Monday
      I’m Always On A Mountain When I Fall
      Silver Wings
      Red Bandana
      My Own Kind Of Hat
      Misery And Gin
      Rainbow Stew
      Are The Good Times Really Over?
      Kern River

      Of which he wrote all but ‘Monday’, ‘Mountain’ and ‘Misery’.

      • The Way I Am

  • Just out of curiosity, is there any other Country artist with near that many #1’s?

    • Strait, Conway, Alan Jackson, probably a few others as well.

    • Using the Billboard charts the top 10 are:

      Strait 44
      Twitty 40
      Haggard 38
      Milsap 35
      Alabama 33
      Pride 29
      Arnold 28
      Parton 25
      A. Jackson 25
      McEntire 24

  • #2 is something I was thinking about when some folks seemed to be questioning Johnny Cash’s country music bona fides. Can’t call Merle a hipster.

  • All due respect to the Hag and Dirty Harry, but to the people that think country music taste has only gotten worse over time, listen to “Bar Room Buddies.” Then reflect on the fact that the following albums were out:
    I Am What I Am
    Habits Old and New
    What Goes Around Comes Around
    There’s a Little Bit of Hank In Me
    Together Again

    …and THIS goes to #1? Kind of Hag’s forgotten Red Solo Cup moment if you ask me.

    I think the other 37 more than make up for it, though.

    • I’ll take “Bar Room Buddies” over “Achey Breaky Heart” or “Country Girl Shake it For Me”.

      There were always fun/goofy/ridiculous songs in country music from the beginning but that’s a whole lot different than country devolving into the majority of songs sounding like pop or boy-band music.

      I still think they biggest problem with country right now is an infection of “boy band mentality” (more so than ‘pop’ mentality).

      • And any artist that has been around for decades is going to have a few cringe worthy songs. For example ‘To All The Girls I Loved Before’ by Willie and Julio Iglesias which I think is an abomination but that doesn’t diminish the greatness of Willie Nelson.

        • I just listened to “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, and I have to say that I loved the song. It is a gorgeous yet soothing combination of Latin music, country, and 80’s pop.

          Sonically, it reminds me of some of George Strait’s greatest 80’s hits, such as “The Chair”.

      • I definitely don’t disagree with you, but I think we look back too fondly at country music’s past. There have always been bad songs that got inexplicably popular.

        As far as “songs sounding like pop,” Crystal Gayle, Eddie Rabbitt, Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Mandrell, and Debby Boone all had #1 country songs in 1980. Dolly took a Donna Summer song to #1. It wasn’t all dip spit, dust, steel guitars, and Telecasters then either.

        • For me it’s all about some sort of a balance in country music. There are a lot of Milsap songs that I actually like and I don’t mind the sort of soulful country pop that he put out but if that was all there was then count me out but at that same time we had Willie, Waylon, Jones, Merle and others still going strong so it balanced out. In current times I guess I could live with some Lady Antebellum or Keith Urban if we had more true country to balance them out but that is what is missing.

        • I kinda find “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” amusing, but it is a great big hunk of cheese.

      • For the record, so it is very clear, I love Merle Haggard. I mean no disrespect. What Have You Got Planned Tonight, Diana is maybe my favorite song of all time.

        That song just sticks out like a sore thumb. It is an interesting snapshot of a moment in country music history before I was alive to experience it.

        • I agree there are always bad/cheesy songs that run up the charts, but I think the problem in the past 15years is that every song running up the charts is complete armature hour. Anyone, I mean anyone, can write lyrics to a song for todays radio.

          Blake Shelton has a song out with a line, “I bring home fresh fajitas and mix up a pitcher of margaritas.” WTF is that? That is a 10yr. children’s rhyme. Besides the fact it is not possible to bring a food item like fajitas a distance of more than 20feet and call them fresh???? Later in the song he talks about lighting watermelon candles. What the hell???

  • The Hag is amazing legendary singer, songwriter and picker. Back to the bar rooms is one of my top 5 country records of all time. Trig is right if I could only fly is an amazing record to. There is a track on if I could only fly called “wishing all things were new” that is a masterpiece. Live is were Merle shines brightest he still is a amazing live performer. Y’all go see for yourselves you will not be disappointed.

  • Saw him in concert a few months ago. He’s still as badass as ever.

  • Now that is a list of badassery! Well done Trigger!

  • Thanks for the article, Trig!

    Merle Haggard is one of my favorite artists. A few years ago I couldn’t make that statement. Two things happened that lead to this revelation and eventually me owning and listening to every Haggard album recorded.

    1. A Rolling Stones article that quoted Johnny Cash saying Merle Haggard was the artist he was always pretending to be.

    2. A youtube clip of Scott Avett (Avett Brothers) singing a cover of Merle Haggards “I Won’t Give Up My Train.”

    If I were on a mission to convert everyone into a Merle Haggard fan, I’d have them listen to these 5 songs:

    1. “I Won’t Give Up My Train”
    Probably my all time favorite country music song, ever! However, it’s the only song on this list not written by The Hag. But Merle owned the “train genre.” He even went as far as to record an album “My Love Affair with Trains” and as Trig stated was born in a boxcar!

    2. “Footlights”
    A more rebellious version was recorded by Jr. on 1981’s “Rowdy.” Recently, Merle’s been closing out his shows with this song …. throwing his guitar, kicking out the footlights, walking off the stage without an encore – badass.

    3. “Me and Crippled Soldiers”
    See Trig’s #7.

    4. “The Running Kind”
    Badass, Outlaw elements of the open-road and freedom run rapid throughout this song. In 2003, Johnny Cash and Tom Petty collaborated on a reputable version of this song.

    5. “Make-up and Faded Blue Jeans”
    There are a lot of campy, trailer park songs written by Haggard that are now being refashioned by acts like Hellbound Glory and Jackson Taylor. This one stands out for it’s instrumentation. Normally I can’t stand horns or too mush piano in my country music, but the sax works in this song.

  • I wish that modern artists were up for partnering with friends and cutting an album like the old guard used to do. Seeing the Willie and Merle album reminded me that it didn’t used to be everyone for himself: it’s like they were a family or something and wouldn’t hesitate to put egos aside to work with one another or help each other out of spots. As the song goes, I guess it was a family tradition. Not anymore, unfortunately.

  • When I was in about 5th grade my parents and their friends went to go see Merle at the Rose Bowl. And being from Bakersfield, my parents were friends with his daughter Dana so they got really great seats and I was so pissed off that they did not take me. I still bring it up to them all the time. But I’ve seen him so many times and it’s always a great show. My favorite album of his was a live album with Rainbow Stew on it. That was my favorite song of his back in my younger days.

  • I’m glad you pointed out that Hag has been a bigger influence on Country music itself than those other guys. I’ve been noticing it and saying it for years: Country music outsiders, people who didn’t grow up on it, always name Johnny Cash as Country music’s all-time greatest, but real Country fans know that Haggard and Jones are the best. I actually wish Rolling Stone magazine would keep it’s nose out of Country music. Those writers have no business commenting on it.

  • Who’s gonna fill their shoes, indeed.

    Where are tomorrow’s legends gonna come from? God, I hate music row. Who is ever gonna be real good, AND get real big? In today’s environment? Nobody. That’s who.

  • Another badass moment is a story I watched Hag and Paycheck tell on youtube awhile back. It was off of an old Crook & Chase show on TNN. Hag was producing an old Paycheck album, and at the time Paycheck was on cocaine real bad. In an effort to get Paycheck clean for the album, Hag had the entire block quarantined by his people. When Paychecks performance and attitude were going down the toilet, Hag told someone to go out and get ” the worst stuff they could get” meaning lowest grade. His excuse was so Paycheck wouldn’t ever wanna do it again after doing such poor cocaine.

    Now that’s some logic for ya. Also, I have recently seen the Hag in concert. It was a great show. The man can still bring it.

  • Great article…. thanks!!
    Talk about a dude who beat the odds, Hags life as a free man should have been over by 20 years old.
    What a legend.

  • I know that George Strait has the record for most number ones, but Merle’s gotta be pretty close to second. Which I don’t even think is really fair. No disrespect to George, but he wrote, what? Like one of his hits. Merle wrote a big chunk of his

    Merle is what country is all about. He managed to come from nothing and make it big. Yet he still stayed true to his roots

  • The Best.
    Most complete & well rounded country artist we’ve had.

  • You can find people that will say negative things about Cash, Waylon, Willie, DAC, all 3 Hanks, etc… about maybe they were playing a part or they fell into a part, or they ripped off some others to have an image…but you can’t with Merle. I love the other guys and take nothing away, but when people ask “who is the real deal” those names get tossed around and debated, then someone will say “Merle” and everyone agrees, “yea, he’s the top dog” and the debate is for second place.

    Best Merle quote ever, I’m paraphrasing, “I write songs about my life and my experiences, cause that is really the only thing I’m qualified to write about.” That is just genius and makes most anyone else seem like and act.

  • I’m an Aussie Hag fan…or can i say hag and bonnie fan…I just luv all his early stuff..favoritesong silver wings,just between the two of us ,I’m falling in love with you,always late,misery an gin,..if I could only fly. the greatest

  • Anyone who could get a song about free bubble-up and rainbow stew to #4 on the country charts has my respect (I love the song). Of course, Little Jimmy Dickens managed to get “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose” to #1, lol.

  • i met merle in walbash indiana-that a day i will never forget-he was so kind to me=he took a long time with me=merle is very good man-he is like hank williams of today-long live hag-thanks for all those great country songs-my song a like is chill factor.

  • he once accidentally farted loudly on stage and then said that was for cma. they come from the same direction.

  • A couple or so not mentioned are some album cuts. Sidewalks of Chicago, What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana, I’ve Got A Darlin’ For A Wife, Always Wanting You, Roots Of My Raising, You’ll Always Be Special To Me. There are others but these are some of my favorites besides the Hag standards.

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