One of the great things about country music is the history.
For the most part, country artists can point to someone that came before them, an inspiration that got them into country music. For today’s artists, we’re talking about inspirations like George Strait, Alan Jackson and Reba. For guys like Alan Jackson… it’s none other than the great Merle Haggard.
And as it turns out, Merle actually opened up for Alan towards the end of his career.
In an interview with The Tennessean, Alan recalled the time Merle opened up for him with a hilarious story about Merle’s hatred for lemon pie:
“He opened or me, believe it or not, which was very strange. It felt weird going on after Merle. It was such a treat having him out there. He’s just so classy.”
And when it came to catering, Alan Jackson did it the right way. He often times hired a catering company to cook up some good country classics (a little cornbread and chicken perhaps?)
But one thing that wasn’t catered was “Mama Ruth’s” lemon pie. Yep, Alan brought the homemade dessert.
“My mama made this old lemon pie, a lemon icebox kinda pie. It was one of my favorites but not everybody likes it, you know.”
Like Merle Haggard…
“I just remember one time we came into catering and Merle’s sittin’ in there and the guys said, ‘Merle, how’s the food today?’
He said, ‘Oh, it’s pretty good, but don’t eat that goddamn yella pie!’
He said don’t eat that yella pie. I never did tell him that was my mama’s pie. He was just that way. He was crazy. He was funny.”
Gotta love it.
On his most recent album, Where Have You Gone, Alan honored his hero, Merle Haggard, with a cover of “That’s The Way Love Goes.”
Written by Lefty Frizzell and Whitey Shafer, “That’s The Way Love Goes” was first recorded by Johnny Rodriguez, and released in 1973 as the second single from his album, All I Ever Meant To Do Was Sing.
Merle Haggard then recorded the song as the title track for his 1983 album, That’s The Way Love Goes, and it would go on to win a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance.
“I’ve been wanting to do something for Merle ever since he died.
I think it’d been cut by a bunch of people, but I always heard Merle did “Love Goes” as a tribute to Lefty… I did it kinda the same way, as a tribute to Merle.”