In honor of country music icon Merle Haggard’s birthday today, you have to see this medley the pair performed on Dolly’s TV program, The Dolly Show, in 1987, featuring several of The Hag’s biggest hits.
They did an incredible mash-up of “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Swinging Doors,” “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “Mama Tried,” and “Okie From Muskogee.”
She introduces her guest and friend lovingly, saying to Merle:
“I’ve always loved your songs, I think you’ve had a string of hits and [they’re] some of my very favorites of all-time. I just want to sing with Merle cuz he’s my buddy and I love to hear him sing.”
I wish they would’ve done more together, as their voices sound so perfect singing harmony. They toured together in the mid-70’s and she wrote his hit song “Kentucky Gambler.” They were long-time friends, and it’s rumored that his number one single “Always Wanting You” was about how he was in love with Dolly, as he was pretty public in professing his feelings about her and talking about why he wrote that song.
Of course, he’s been a mainstay in country music for decades and could easily be in the conversation for a spot on the Mount Rushmore of Country Music. He was a true outlaw, someone who did things his own way, and we’re sorely missing him in the country landscape today.
From his stories of escaping prison, returning to prison, and becoming inspired to play country music after watchingJohnny Cash perform where he was incarcerated, he was the definition of a badass and a true trailblazer.