April 6 — IF I COULD ONLY FLY, Merle Haggard (2000)

imagePropped against my parents’ RCA stereo cabinet were albums that provided much of the soundtrack to my childhood: Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison,” some Elvis and Johnny Mathis compilations, the “West Side Story” soundtrack, and Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and his tribute to Bob Wills. Merle was one of us, closer in proximity and ideology than the others. We loved that his mamma tried, his yearning to make it through December and his theme song to our favorite TV show, the trucker’s drama “Movin’ On.” Merle was a key figure in the outlaw country movement, which would influence my own musical tastes years later. I once saw Dave Alvin in Santa Fe. He said Merle wasn’t well, dedicated a song to him and asked for our prayers. Today, some eight years later, Merle gave in on his 79th birthday. He always did have a fightin’ side.



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