EXCLUSIVE: Charlie Daniels Remembers Merle Haggard

Nick Kangadis | April 7, 2016
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Country music icon Merle Haggard died on his birthday at the age of 79 on Wednesday.

Haggard’s passing has sent ripples throughout the music world, but especially in the country music community. Country artists and fans alike have been in mourning over the death of a pioneering legend.

MRCTV reached out to another country music legend, Charlie Daniels, about the passing of such a monumental voice.

Daniels was very gracious in giving MRCTV his time and answered all of our questions about his country music colleague.

When asked what made Haggard such a giant in the world of music, Daniels said:

He was one of a kind. He was one of the guys that could communicate with people. The way he wrote. The way he sang. He talked in the language of the common man. People understood what he was talking about. He was talking about common emotions, common experiences that people go through in their daily lives, and he was one of the people that connected with the masses of people.

Daniels then explained what made Haggard’s music speak to the people:

It was the way he wrote it. There was nothing abstract about it. You didn’t have to stop and think what he was talking about […] Plus, he had an identification factor. You tell me how many guys, if you listen to the country radio right now, how many people do you identify without the disc jockey telling you who it is? The first five notes of Merle singing, I know who it is. I can’t say that for most of the singers nowadays. Many of them sound alike. He didn’t sound like anybody but Merle Haggard. Now, a lot of people sound like him, but he didn’t try to sound like anybody.

Daniels touched on how Haggard's music resonates to people in today's climate:

I think to the working class people it sure relates really well. It does to me. I’ll put it like that[…]There will always be Merle Haggard songs played. There will always be Merle Haggard fans […] Just like Hank Williams fans, George Jones fans, there are certain artists that connect so deeply that they touch something down in people.

Daniels discussed Haggard’s status as a legend:

The people that reach a status of where you know who somebody’s talking about when you mention their first name, there’s very few people that are that way. Elvis was that way. I mean you say Elvis everybody knew who Elvis was. When you say George? You’re either talking about George Jones or George Strait. But when you say ‘Merle,’ you don’t even have to say ‘Haggard.’ You just say ‘Merle.’ Everybody knows you’re talking about Merle Haggard.

Daniels highlighed his fondest memory of Merle Haggard:

I loved his music. I loved the way he went about it. I loved his voice. I loved the way he wrote. I loved the way he was able to communicate. He was just the country music package. Merle Haggard was that.

Daniels then gave his final thoughts about the passing of Merle Haggard:

Well, it’s a sad thing to think that we’ll never hear another new Merle Haggard tune. We’ll never see him back on the Grand Ole Opry […] A guy we’ve had around for 60 years is no longer, and he’s a cornerstone of country music.

We would like to thank Charlie (I’m supposed to call him Charlie now) for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk for a few minutes with us about one of the greats, Merle Haggard.

If you would like to listen to the full interview, please watch below:


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