Thursday, April 7, 2016

RIP Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard passed away yesterday, his birthday, he was 79 years old.
RtBE is not going to try to pretend to be an expert on Mr. Haggard, so I will direct you to the NY Times Obituary for the full scoop on the man. I will just take a second to talk to you about how we came to know his music.

Quite simply, it was through The Grateful Dead. When I was introduced to the Dead by my good friend Matt, I was given a few tapes that he thought I would like. Not the normal Cornell 77 or the studio albums, Matt knew me better and threw over 8/16/91 with it's eerie "Scarlet>Victim>Fire" loose ass bass and first set "Dark Star" as well as 8/27/72 which has become known these days (and then really) as Sunshine Daydream and probably still is our favorite Dead show.

It is on this tape that we first really heard a Merle Haggard song as out of the spaceyness of "Dark Star" Bobby sang Marty Robbins "El Paso" and while that juxtaposition was oddly endearing, the following "Sing Me Back Home" is All-World as Jerry and Donna sing the hell out of the classic Haggard song:

Hot Damn, it still brings chills. Sure, we had heard Okie before but always thought it was a bad joke, this time it sunk in that the man wrote great songs. I should also make mention that Haggard was the first artist who I technically reviewed for Glide Magazine (which apparently has been cut off). He opened for Bob Dylan back in 2005 and we (coincidentally with the same Matt from above) had the pleasure of seeing him in Newark, he and his band were great. Sure Merle has passed on, but his spirit and songs will forever live on.

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