I'M NOT MUCH of a country music fan, but the passing of Merle Haggard yesterday is worth noting.
Haggard was one of the those outlaw guys who didn't really care about the rules or the way things were supposed to work. He also figured out playing great songs meant surrounding yourself with great musicians and keeping it simple.
This leads to a story about a Cheeseburger show. It was a wedding reception in town, and it was toward the end of the gig. An older guy walked up to our guitar player, Eric McCaughey, and issued a bold statement.
"Ya'll ain't got a hair on your ass if you can't play Merle," he said.
Eric looked back at him and said, "No problem." Then he looked at us and said, "It's in A boys. Follow me." He played that awesome lick at the beginning and we ran with it from there.
My memory is a bit blurry, which means it was a really fun time. I just remember that old guy standing there with his mouth open, watching this Cheesey cover band blow the doors off by playing "Working Man's Blues."
So here's to Merle Haggard, who is waking up the angels as we speak and probably getting ready for a lifetime engagement at the Pearly Gates Honky Tonk Bar & Grill.
He certainly had hair where it counted.