The Common Man's Poet

There are only a few people and artists in our country's rich history who truly epitomize America and our American spirit. One such man passed away earlier this week, and his life and music are pure Americana.  Merle Haggard was the common man's poet and his impact on a generation of singers and songwriters was immense.  Over the last several years, I have really come to appreciate and admire his lyrics and music, as I have tried to sing his songs at karaoke.  What made him legendary?

He was born near Bakersfield, CA in 1937 and his father passed away when he was just nine years old.  His song, "Mama Tried", was his real life story about how his mother tried to steer him right and it was his own fault for running on the wrong side of the law and life early on.  He ended up in San Quentin prison for two and a half years and was in the audience when Johnny Cash visited for a special concert.  His experiences in prison really helped turn him around and as he burst on the country music scene in the 1960's, his music and lyrics reflected his life.  He wrote and sang songs from his heart and soul and it was a mix of country, blues, and jazz.

Merle Haggard was America.  He came up from nothing and made himself into a country music legend with hard work and determination and amazing talent.  There are three artists that really represent the American dream and spirit and those are Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Merle.  When you hear a song by them, and you just hear a second or two of their voices, you instantly recognize and know them.  Merle Haggard will be greatly missed, but his music and classic voice will live on for years to come. He was the common man.  He lived out the songs he wrote and there wasn't any question in your mind if he was authentic. History will remember Merle as an icon and a genius of his trade and the common man's poet.  Rest in peace Merle.


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