Merle Haggard dead: ‘Best country singer that ever lived’ recognised contemporary country music as ‘a bunch of crap’

'I don’t find no substance.'

Christopher Hooton
Thursday 07 April 2016 09:07 BST
(Merle Haggard/Facebook)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


I happened to catch this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, which took place last week, and the abomination that is Florida Georgia Line.

I’m no country music aficionado, but the performance by this weird musical hybrid of One Direction and Coldplay was a new and strange kind of torture, the only country thing about it being the duo’s slightly Southern twang.

Don’t take my word for it though, bonafide country legend Merle Haggard, who died on his birthday yesterday at the age of 79, despaired of the state of the genre in recent years.

“I can’t tell what they’re doing,” he told InForum in an interview last year. “They’re talking about screwing on a pickup tailgate and things of that nature. I don’t find no substance. I don’t find anything you can whistle and nobody even attempts to write a melody. It’s more of that kids stuff. It’s hot right now, but I’ll tell you what, it’s cooling off.”

Haggard singled out Sturgill Simpson as the only young singer-songwriter deserving of praise.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s the only one out there,” he added. “The rest of them sound like a bunch of (crap) to me. He comes out and does a great show.”

Grammy-winner Haggard died from pneumonia, with tributes flooding in.

His son Ben’s was particularly poignant, who wrote on Facebook:

“A week ago dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday, and he wasn't wrong. A hour ago he took his last breath surrounded by family and friends. He loved everything about life and he loved that everyone of you gave him a chance with his music. He wasn't just a country singer.. He was the best country singer that ever lived.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in