Merle Haggard died today, on his 79th birthday. He'll be missed.
The Hag was much more than the caricature of the mindless patriot who wrote Okie From Muskogie. He was a moving songwriter, a fine singer, a superb musician. A man who had 38 number one hits.
A good man who did hard time and turned his life around. And someone who was an integral part of our times, part of the fabric of our culture. Part of our shared consciousness.
And so tomorrow I will be redoing the edition of The Big Fat Wide Americana Hour I had prepared for Saturday release.
Saturday's show won't be all about Merle. But I need to tip my hat to him, to try to show where he fit into the American musical landscape.
Maybe just two songs -- the first and the last. Bookends.
I want to find a way to say thank you. And I want to find a way to say goodbye.