Idag blir det Merle Haggard, en äkta arbetarförfattare i countrykläder. Vi är många som känner igen oss i hans lyrik, och för min del är just nu "Branded Man" den mest talande låten. Jag har inte suttit i fängelse en enda dag, men man kan känna sig märkt av andra skäl.
Min vän Dale Houston, som känner Merle personligen berättar från hjärtat:
Oh Lord! I could write a book on that subject! Obviously, a part of what formed my view on music was his amazing catalog of work. Songs that he had written himself, along with songs that others wrote and he was able to reach down inside and pull the emotion out of them. The songs were amazing, but no matter what the song, he made it believable. He wasn’t just some singer trying to sing every note of a song perfect. He sang them perfect because he lived them all. Obviously, songs like Mama Tried, Sing Me Back Home, Today I Started Loving You Again, Silver Wings, and You Don’t Have Very Far To Go fit the description. He wrote those. But he also did That’s The Way Love Goes written by Lefty Frizzell, Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me, It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad) by Hank Cochran, My Own Kind Of Hat and There Won’t Be Another Now by Red Lane, and the list goes on… They normally say that no one does a song better than the person that wrote it since it is their baby. That’s not so with Merle. He made each of these songs his own. And then I’d have to talk about the songs I loved so much that weren’t radio hits. Many of these songs, only really true Hag fans would know. Songs like The Son of Hickory Hollers Tramp, Better Off When I Was Hungry, Seeing Eye Dog, Shade Tree Fix-It Man, No One To Sing For But The Band… But what really did it for me… It wasn’t just the songs. It wasn’t just his delivery. It was the way he connected with people. All of it came together to really affect people. And I was lucky enough to be there to see it. I was in awe of how he could transform people when he sang. And that’s what I wanted to do. And you know what? He still does it! When I recently introduced my fiancee to Merle for the first time, we sat on the bus before the show and he played us some new songs he was thinking of recording. Then we went to the stage in front of 120,000 people. My fiancee later remarked about how he transformed from this man sitting on the bus, into this icon that held the entire audience with every word out of his mouth. And to me, that’s what did it. Not just the songs. Not just the voice. But the coming together of all of that, with the man. And the man connected with people in a way that was real. Only a few can do all of that. That’s what legends are made out of. (Told you I could write a book on the subject! haha) #merlehaggard