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One month exactly to the date I wrote a blog post begging God not to take Merle. I wasn’t ready – none of us were. Today on The Hag’s 79th birthday, he took his last breath and gained his angel wings. Tears surface as I write this and though it seems silly (as I didn’t know this man personally), Merle was my childhood.

merleI had spent this week planning my show,  “Friday Nights with Rikki”, and I was going to celebrate his birthday on air. Facebook was flooded with “Happy Birthday Merle” posts and well wishes for a speedy recovery, but in the blink of an eye the happiness turned as Facebook was flooded with memoriam. Words like “devastated”, “He finally gained his silver wings,” and “Rest in Peace Merle, There are no words” overtook  this otherwise beautiful day.  In my heart, I believe this unusually warm weather was brought by Merle’s silver wings shining in the sunlight.


Merle Haggard – “Silver Wings”


To name one song to leave his legacy by is impossible.  A lot of times, when singers pass on, the media is quick to pair a song the artist has written about  their death. Sadly, a lot of Merle’s songs would fit that category, but the most appropriate would be, “Sing Me Back Home.”


Sing me back home with a song I used to hear

Make my old memories come alive

Take me away and turn back the years

Sing me back home before I die.


I pray he was sung home today.  I pray he had the heavenly angels around him singing the songs he made famous.  The dreamer in me hopes that Johnny Cash, George Jones, Buck Owens and all the other country greats were gathered around him and his family singing him home.  What a heavenly noise that would be. To think, today they are rejoicing in the heavens singing for Jesus on this glorious day – all together again.


Merle Haggard – “Sing me Back Home”
willieI can’t help but think of Willie Nelson and how he must be feeling.  Willie and Merle have been friends for such a long time – even going on the “Django Unchanged” tour and producing a hit single called, “It’s all Going to Pot!”  When I went to Willie’s Facebook page he posted not only a picture that says, “He’s my brother, my friend, I will miss him” but a link to a video. So I clicked on the video, pushed play, and once again the tears spilled when I heard Willie sing the opening lyrics of “Living on the road my friend.”


Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard – “Poncho and Lefty”


Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard – “It’s All Going to Pot”


Merle’s passing has hit everyone like a ton of bricks. Even though we knew it was coming, we still weren’t prepared to say goodbye.  In a time where country music is changing and sounding less and less country, we true blue classic country fans are scared to death every time we lose one of these greats.  I think we fear that they are going to take their music and legacy with them, but they won’t. It will live forever in the music that was made, the covers that will follow, and the up-and-comers that stick by the true country sound.


Merle Haggard- Okie from Muskogee


Thank you Merle for being such a huge part of my life.  Thank you for the amazing lyrics and your beautiful voice.  You have blessed me and every other country music fan with all you have contributed. Thank you for being you. I know I speak for myself and everyone else when I say, I am going to miss you my friend!


Love you forever Merle!




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