I interviewed Merle Haggard (1937-2016) for TV GUIDE’s Music Guide in the early 2000s. I backed up the main writer, who was on vacation that week, so the Q&A was something that, quite literally, came my way by chance – and from Haggard’s willingness to yak on the phone for 20-or-so minutes knowing that, at most, only one quote would make it into print. (We were great at paraphrasing.) He was gracious and funny, and offered good insights into his music.
Anyway, much will be written about his legacy by folks far more knowledgable than I. That said, “If We Make It Through December,” which spent four weeks atop the country singles chart in December 1973 and January 1974, is a stone-cold classic – one of the greatest songs ever written about living through tough economic times, I think.