As most of us in Douglas County have been counting down to see Merle Haggard at the Oregon Jamboree this summer, it has quickly turned to just praying he makes it to summer alive. The Hag has been in the worst of health with this week entering the hospital for his third bout of double pneumonia in just three short months. With his health so poor he has had to cancel yet again another round of concerts clear through the month of March.
“If We Make it Through December”
Merle has been a part of my life since I was just a baby, and as weird as this sounds, all I want to do is beg to God, “Please Don’t Take Merle!” I am not ready. Not ready at all. Writing this, my eyes tear up at the thought of our old country greats leaving us. When Johnny Cash passed away I held a moment of silence for him, I can honestly say I never did that before or after for anybody else. Some people say, “He puts his pants on like everyone else… one leg at a time.” But when you spend your whole life around country music, these singers and their music become a part of you.
“Are the Good Times Really Over”
During the last bout of Pneumonia, Merle was hospitalized. Fans came from all over showing the love they had for him. Well wishes, prayers, and all around togetherness of a country nation made for a very beautiful tribute to Haggard. With all this love came a man who knelt on his knees praying for God to heal Merle outside his tour bus. It was one of the most beautiful displays from a country music fan I have ever seen. I could relate. If I was anywhere close enough to Merle, believe me, I would be doing the same thing!
Merle is loved by many people I know, whether it be my best friend, Kelly, who dated Merle’s son and remains a huge fan of Haggard, or my children’s grandfather who always had it playing in the truck in the backyard, the radio in the kitchen, or talking about Merle. Between the two of us, my kids were well raised with The Hags most famous songs. “Okie from Muskogee” is probably the one that sticks out the most. Their grandfather would always sing this song, wether it be around the house or with my children in his arms dancing with them to every word. I am so thankful my kids have grown up around this music. To have them share old music hits with me as if I have never heard it before is priceless.
“Okie from Muskogee”
I know that Merle isn’t gone yet, and it hasn’t been said that he won’t make it. But at 78 years old and three trips to the hospital with double pneumonia, it’s becoming a little scary for us fans. Scary to think that the great legends of country music won’t be here anymore and that someday all we will have is the stories, the records and the memories. But that’s where we come in, we need to keep their music alive, by playing it and sharing it and never letting the music go with them. This is true country music folks, and it is so special to many of us old school country music fans. It’s up to us to keep it alive. All I can really say is… “God, Please Don’t Take Merle!”
“Sing Me Back Home”