We couldn’t really afford to lose Merle Haggard. There just aren’t that many like him left. Country music has become an assembly line production of empty, shallow, factory-produced pretty faces. There’s no style or originality. There’s no personality. There’s no danger. And there’s no emotion left. Merle Haggard had all of those things in spades. He lived his music. That’s what made him so damn special.
I think it’s kind of fitting that Haggard died today, his birthday. He left this world the same day he entered it. Maybe that means his work was finished. I don’t know. I do know I hope he stops by the great bar of the afterlife and has a drink with my dad. I think they’d enjoy talking shit with each other.
I got a call from the partner of one of my Dad’s oldest friends over the weekend. Eddie drifted out of Dad’s life a few years before he died. It seems he got kind of weird and cut himself off from all his friends. Daddy always kind of thought Eddie went back to the reservation (he’s Native American, although I can’t remember what tribe). We hadn’t heard from him in so long, I kind of thought Eddie was already gone by the time Daddy died, and I wasn’t sure how to get a hold of him anyway. Well, Eddie’s still around, but his partner (can’t remember if they got married) says he’s probably not long for this world. He was asking for my dad. And I wish to whatever god might be listening that I could deliver him.
The Indian was a hard-drinking, hard living son of a bitch. He rode a motorcycle until he wiped out and messed up his leg; always walked with a limp after that. He told even taller tales than my old man did–that’s why they called him True Story, because he’d always claim it was a “true story” no matter how ridiculous it was. One of Dad’s favorite stories about him was how they went into a local bar that turned out to be a cop bar, and Eddie got into a fight with a few of the cops and got them banned. But he was funny and generous; Eddie would give you the shirt off his back and never ask for anything in return. Eddie was one of a kind, and it breaks my heart to know that he’s dying without the one friend he was asking for.
The news about Eddie has got me thinking about Dad a lot. I sent a message out into the universe for him to go see Eddie, and I hope he listens. And I hope when Eddie gets there, they go out drinking and lie to the waitresses and get into a couple of fights.