In loving memory of a true original, Merle Haggard:
Porter Wagoner is a bit off grammatically, but he speaks the truth at the end of the video:
“Of all the singers there is, I just think he’s the greatest man to listen to and puts a story across better than anybody, anywhere.”
Merle and “Kern River” both have a special place in my heart because I lived in Bakersfield, California for a couple of years. That’s where Merle was born (in a converted railroad boxcar!) and raised, and where the Kern River is. Here’s an excerpt from his NY Times obit:
Defying the conventions of the Nashville musical establishment, Mr. Haggard was an architect of the twangy Bakersfield sound, a guitar-driven blend of blues, jazz, pop and honky-tonk that traced its roots to Bakersfield, Calif. In Mr. Haggard’s case the sound defined a body of work as indelibly as that of any country singer since Hank Williams.