Oildale’s favorite son Merle Haggard, country’s only true believer and a man who made something out of dirt, died on his birthday April 6. He was 79.
I recall with relative clarity one languid spring Friday afternoon scene at Robert’s Western World in Nashville listening to third-tier honkey tonk acts reverb off of our half-empty cans of Coors heavy. The college roommates were reunited temporarily for a wedding: me, my buddy Sam, Nashville by way of San Francisco and the next day’s groom-to-be, Dan, is, was and will always be from Bakersfield, Joe, a Fayetteville-based Army Ranger and John, a beaming San Diego transplant from the Pacific Northwest.
Dan yelled out his request for Streets of Bakersfield, his national anthem.
“Merle,” the troubadour said. “Best guitar player I never met.”
He thanked Dan for calling out something that wasn’t country pop and proceeded to bellow out…
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