This Song’s For The Workin’ Man

by POPSIE 1956

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The Country Music World, and the Music World in general, has lost an icon in Merle Haggard, and I lost a big personal favorite.

I  have been a Country fan for at least 50 of my 60 years on earth, my parents played a local Country radio station (no longer around, as are my folks) around the clock while I was growing up in Albany, NY.

I saw my first Country show at age 8, the headliner was George Jones.

I got my first radio job at age 21, it was a Country station.

I have never looked back.

Hag, like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, transcended what people perceived as “Country”

Their magic was in the words, the way they took their life experiences and put them to music and lyrics.

I defy anyone who has lost a love to not hear “Crazy” and feel every word.

I defy anyone who has been in an unfulfilled love affair to not hear “Ring of Fire” and feel every word.

I defy anyone who has felt how our world has changed, and not always for the better, to not hear “Are The Good Times Really Over” and feel every word.

When you heard a Haggard “Prison Song,” you KNEW it was accurate since Merle DID time in State Prison.

Merle was all about family, a song like “Daddy Frank” summed up the love of the family unit.

And “If We Make It Through December” could hit everyone who wants the best for their kids (or in my case, grandkids) at Christmas.

I consider myself VERY lucky to have met Hag, AND to have introduced him from the stage!

It’s the late 90’s, I’m the Morning Guy and Program Director for a Country Music station in Central Indiana.

At the time, there was a music venue known for showcasing up and coming music talent, as well as legends who were no longer on the chart.

One night, I was chosen to bring on Merle Freaking Haggard.

I met him, along with his wife Bonnie Owens (and who used to be married to Buck Owens, yeah, I know my Country), and some members of his band.

Later on, I go on stage as the show starts, introduce myself, uttered a few syllables, then simply said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Merle Haggard.”

A standing ovation before the first note was even played.

I sat in the audience as all of my favorites were played, and many I wasn’t expecting.

So on this sad note, we say goodbye to the Hag.

On the way home, I’ll search for Haggard songs on iheart.com and sing along.

And once I am home, I’ll crack one open in Merle’s honor too.

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