Back in the day my LiveJournal was littered with posts about celebrity deaths. In fact, I think the last thing I ever posted there was a tribute to Harry Morgan who died toward the end of my Afghanistan tour in December 2011. I’ve definitely fallen out of that habit since. Maybe it’s the losses I’ve suffered personally or boredom or maturation. Regardless of the reason, celebrity deaths tend not to have such an effect on me anymore.
Merle Haggard, on the other hand, is a little bit different. My best buddy in Iraq was his grandson, and so I’m going to take a moment to make a little commemoration.
He was certainly a great songwriter and quite adept with a guitar or fiddle, but the thing I most loved about Merle Haggard was his classic country voice. When I imagine what a country singer should sound like, I always think of that old Okie from Muskogee. In fact, I don’t think he ever sounded better than he did on “Pancho and Lefty” (a duet with Willie Nelson singing a song from my man Townes Van Zandt).
I never publicly memorialize celebrities like I used to, and this is certainly not a return to the habit. American culture suffered a tremendous loss, but more importantly, a friend lost his granddad. So RIP, Mr. Haggard, and my condolences to my buddy, you old catfish.