Those who knew Merle Haggard said that he was a stubborn and determined man who always insisted on giving the fans what they wanted. On April 6th, the world was shocked with the news that Haggard had passed away at 73-years-old. However, even after his death, he’s apparently refused to stop releasing music.
The day that Merle passed, his son, Ben, posted on Facebook that his Dad, “…loved everything about life, and he loved that every one of you gave him a chance with his music. He wasn’t just a country singer… He was the best country singer that ever lived.” Those words ring true – even a week after his death – Merle had plenty more music to share with the world.
Because of his strong love for his fans and supporters, Merle deemed it wise to record an ‘archive’ of 300-400 songs that he wrote that were never released. In a 2015 interview with Broadway’s Electric Barnyard, Merle revealed that he had purposefully built up the back log of music just in case he was ever rendered incapable of singing or he passed away.
Merle: “I’ve probably got 300 to 400 songs that I haven’t released that I collected over the years. We call it ‘The Archive.’ And we haven’t released anything from that. When I am unable to record or sing anymore, or get killed or something, well they’ll probably put it out.”
Haggard’s long time fans are what pushed him to ensure there was a vault, but one thing he didn’t expect was a new fan base from a younger audience. His classic fans followed his journey from the time they were kids, but he was beginning to impact an entirely new generation. He admitted to not even understanding how he gained the new younger audience.
Since he has though, having the archive will only continue to fuel his legacy for many years to come, and his reach will be far beyond that of when he was alive.
Rest in peace Merle, and thank you for all the gifts you’ve given us and continue to give.
Here’s one of my favorite older performances by Merle:
Are you looking forward to Merle’s new album as much as we are? Let us know in the comments! Share if you want to help spread the word about Merle Haggard’s awesome legacy.