Giving the Nobel Prize in Literature to a musician is no different than giving an actor a Grammy or a musician an Oscar or a pop star a CMA Award. Or I don’t know, maybe electing a reality TV star President. And as is being reported, Dylan has yet to acknowledge the accolade, and isn’t even returning the Nobel committee’s phone calls.
Just as Bill Kirchen was the country twang compass for country rock’s Commander Cody, Austin De Lone was the keyboard-playing rock maestro for the country rock outfit Eggs Over Easy. Both their sensibilities and respective expertise make them a complimentary pairing that just downright works, and that is evidenced in their new album together.
Ben Haggard has long been seen as a promising future talent in country music himself, regularly posting videos online and garnering a significant following. And now he has taken one of the first steps towards launching his own career. Announced this week, Ben Haggard has signed to performing rights organization BMI.
Preserving the roots of country is not always just about paying homage. Sometimes it is about sowing disharmony or speaking out in protest to help force country music back on the right path. Music Row and the country music industry will always be about money first. The artists are the ones who must take the lead and reign the business in.
The Garden & Gun ‘New Outlaws’ issue seemed to illustrate the problem with many of today’s music periodicals that see the expanding interest in independent country music, but rely mostly on journalists and editors who only know country music from the outside looking in.
Well, this is a side of Sturgill Simpson we haven’t seen for a while. Last week, the ACM created a new award called the ‘Merle Haggard Spirit Award’ that was said to honor the contributions of Haggard by acknowledging artists who exemplify his uncompromising integrity and “singular vision in carving an indelible path in country music.”
His new album I’m Not The Devil is an ambitious, unwavering, slow and plodding volley of songwriting body blows that makes no apologies, incorporates no compromises, and gives no quarter to those with open hearts that love to listen to music that makes them swoon with one emotional onslaught after another, all served in a down home deep-fried country style.
One of the most creatively-rambunctious artists in the history of country music, a well-respected and prolific songwriter, and one of the best friends artists like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard ever had, has passed away. Freddy Powers, known for so many contributions, but known best as an aficionado of country jazz passed away on Tuesday, June 21st.
Every year we mark the passing of music legends in country music and beyond, but 2016 has been an especially dark year for the passing of music greats. From Prince and David Bowie in the pop and rock world, to Merle Haggard and Guy Clark in country, to the dozens of others who may have not been as well-known, but still had a great impact on American music.
As Merle was suffering from complications due to a double pneumonia and was in a hospital recovering, he would pen what would become his final song, “Kern River Blues.” Even though Merle was barely strong enough to sing, he put out the effort to record the song at his “Hag” studio with his full band.
Merle Haggard is gone, but he won’t be forgotten in the town he helped put on the map with one of his signature songs. Muskogee, Oklahoma is looking to erect not one statue of the country music legend, but two of them in the aftermath of his passing on April 6th.
Usually it’s only once or twice a year that music media is faced with the dilemma of how to adequately and respectfully cover the passing of a high profile music celebrity. In 2016, it has been more like once or twice a month. In fact the frequency of seismic music deaths has been a story unto itself.
Now that Merle Haggard has passed on, Kris Kristofferson is one of the few remaining links to country music’s most iconic era of classic songwriting. Kristofferson has also been candid about his struggles with deepening memory loss, so any new recordings should be considered a treasure.
Today most well-informed country fans know what a death sentence a Curb Records contract can be for an artist, at least for most of them. But in 1990 when Merle Haggard signed with the label, Curb was seen as one of the most trustworthy labels in town. They didn’t have to answer to higher ups in New York and Los Angeles, and could pass that freedom on to their artists.
Merle Haggard is gone, but he won’t be forgotten. A week after his death, word has come down that a motion picture about his life is in the works. GMH Productions has optioned a script about the life of Merle Haggard called “Done It All,” written by screenwriter Cliff Hollingsworth who is best known for writing the critically-acclaimed motion picture “Cinderella Man.”
Randy Houser may want to spend more time perfecting his faux hawk instead of speaking his mind after he put his foot in his mouth in a recent interview with radio.com (see below). The co-writer of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and the close friend of Bro-Country Godfather Dallas Davidson decided to go on the offensive against Bro-Country haters.
Though Merle Haggard is no longer around to record and release new music, that doesn’t mean there isn’t unheard, unreleased recordings waiting to be unearthed for the public in the future. As is often the case with music artists who pass away, unreleased Merle Haggard music remains vaulted away, either as leftovers and outtakes from previous recording sessions, or in Merle’s case, purposely stashed away…
The story from W. Earl Brown about Toby Keith and Merle has now been shared on Facebook nearly 100,000 times, and websites like Taste of Country and others have picked it up. But despite it being a touching tribute to Merle and a great story, the Mandalay Bay concert with Toby Keith was not the final concert Merle Haggard ever played as is being reported.
Are the lives of celebrities any more special than our own, and is their passing any more tragic than the common, unheralded people who pass every single day without as much as a word beyond loved ones, or a tiny blurb in a local paper? In short, no they’re not. But that’s also what made Merle Haggard special. He was the embodiment of America’s forgotten: the poor, the imprisoned, the wrongfully accused…
On his 79th birthday, one of the most legendary performers in country music history has died. According to numerous sources, Merle Haggard passed away this morning, April 6th. This story is developing, and Saving Country Music will keep you abreast via continued updates as details emerge and remembrances pour in.