Well, it's felt like January the last week or so, snow and cold and all - and now comes news that would have fit too well back in January, when it seemed like every week some great artist was dying... Merle Haggard died this week.
He was a giant. In a better world, I'd be writing a band of the month for him - but in this one, I never dove into his catalogue like I did for others. I did for Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, back in the 80s, and early 90s - later, though, I was more inclined to browse through country, picking up familiarity with the other greats - the Carter Family, Merle, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and so on - without that immersion. I regret it, though, especially with Haggard, who had the weight and importance of Williams and Cash, and would have rewarded every minute I spent listening to him.
Though I got plenty of pleasure from listening to what I did. He was magnificent, and even when he was playing redneck, he was smart and funny about it. He will be missed.
Playing to the base, Okie from Muskogee, with Willie Nelson:
If We Make it Through December:
I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink, from October last year:
Sing Me Back Home: