Haggard draws songs from life experiences

Merle Haggard, who has recorded 38 No. 1 songs, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. (KRT photo)

By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer

He claims he’s just a common man. But yet he is revered as a musical legend by many across the globe.

Merle Haggard is not just an Oakie from Muskogee, but a man who puts life to music and music to life with songs such as “Mama Tried” and “Everybody’s Had The Blues.”
“I sing songs about life,” the Country Music Hall of Famer said. “It’s like a soap opera put to music.”

Haggard is appearing in concert Sunday at Doc Stewart Park.

Haggard’s style of music was influenced by his rowdy younger years and his love of American music.

“I cover a style of music I like to call country jazz,” the 68-year-old Haggard said in a phone interview Thursday from California. “That has been my aim throughout my entire career — to play with a band where there’s no script, no set agenda, where we’re just shooting from the shoulder, you could say.”

Haggard was born in Bakersfield, Calif., during the Great Depression. At 9, Haggard looked to the rebellious side of life after the death of his father by creating his rough and rowdy facade, according to CMT.com.

No stranger to trouble, Haggard also spent time in jail and prison, according to his biography.

He said he likes the fact that his music transcends generations.

“I’m always glad to see the younger generation enjoy my music,” Haggard said. “I hope my music influences them they way Chuck Berry and Elvis influenced me.”

The Oakie from Muskogee will share the stage with a couple of guys hot on Texas music scene — Jack Ingram and Robert Earl Keene, and one country artist familiar with the Clovis fan-base, Johnny Rodriguez.

“Haggard may not be center-stage much these days, but he is never far from the limelight,” www.countryreview.com said. “The defiant individualist and renowned Nashville rebel is back.”

Haggard’s road manager Frank Mull said Haggard’s bus left California Thursday evening on its way to another show in Tucson before coming to Clovis.