Flashback: Merle Haggard Sings an Emotional ‘If I Could Only Fly’ – by Des Kelly

Flashback: Merle Haggard Sings an Emotional ‘If I Could Only Fly’ – by Des Kelly

In my book, “The Hag” was quite definitely “The Best” Country Icon.

Where there were plenty of these fantastic Icons of Country Music, Merle Haggard stood out, in that he wasn’t just a Vocalist, but also a fine Fiddle-player, a great guitarist, a competent Composer of Country songs, respected band leader, who could sing both happy and sad songs with equal ease, making lovers of good music want to listen

to them over and over again.

Desmond Kelly

Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief) e’Lanka.

Flashback: Merle Haggard Sings an Emotional ‘If I Could Only Fly’-by 

Merle Haggard

Source: Merle Haggard

On April 6th, 2016, his 79th birthday, country music icon Merle Haggard died at his home in California’s San Joaquin Valley after a battle with pneumonia. In the three years since his passing, Haggard’s already sizeable legacy continues to inspire country artists and others touched by his image as the “poet of the common man.”

Merle Haggard was one of the chief architects of the Bakersfield Sound, the hugely influential West Coast-based sub-genre of country music. The city’s first recording studio dedicated to country music was Tally Records, co-owned by Charles “Fuzzy” Owen and his cousin, Lewis Talley. Operated at several locations throughout Bakersfield as the music’s popularity increased, others who recorded at Tally included Buck Owens — who cut a rockabilly record credited as “Corky Jones,” and his first wife, Bonnie Owens, who was later to become Merle’s second wife. Haggard, just out of San Quentin Prison in 1960, was getting booked for club dates and local TV by Talley, and in 1962, cut his first Tally Records single, “Singing My Heart Out,” backed with “Skid Row.”

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With “Sing a Sad Song,” Haggard first entered the Billboard country charts at the end of 1963, reaching Number 19. His next three singles, also on Tally, would chart, including his first Top 10 entry — and last single for Tally — (“My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” penned by Liz Anderson, mother of “Rose Garden” singer Lynn Anderson and the co-writer of his first Number One single in 1967, “The Fugitive.” By that time, of course, Haggard’s Tally contract was acquired by Capitol Records, where he would score a total of 24 chart-toppers through 1976. But he continued to remain loyal to Owen and Talley. In 1974, Haggard, who was soon to vacate his Capitol contract for MCA, formed his own imprint there called Tally-MCA.

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