It was in May of 2006 that I was going to get to see Bob Dylan for the first time at the Asheville, NC, Civic Center. His opening act that night was Merle Haggard, who passed away recently at the ripe old age of 79.
I didn’t know much about the country legend at that time, but I did find out that night that he could put on a great show. He had such a terrific rapport with the audience as he stood at the front of the stage, told stories and reeled off a number of his hits.
Maybe it was because Merle impressed me so much that I was disappointed in Dylan’s performance. He performed near the back of the stage on keyboards, never faced nor addressed the audience and the sound, from where I was sitting anyway, was muddled.
In contrast, Haggard’s sound was clear as the well-seasoned performer won me over.
I never realized that he had written so many classics such as “Mama Tried,” “Okie from Muskogee,” and “I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink.” Of course I knew about, and even played, some of his standards such as “Workin’ Man Blues.”
According to CNN, Haggard recorded more than three dozen No. 1 country hits in a musical career that spanned six decades, from the 1960s into the 2010s.
I have to admit that Iwas late to the party, but I’m glad I made it in time to see him play and sing.