I love that I grew up with two parents who love good classic country music. I grew up listening to Patsy Cline and Jerry Reed and George Jones and Willie Nelson. We watched Hee Haw and The Statler Brothers. I personally think it's hard to qualify something as true country music if there's no steel guitar in sight. Mmmm. It's good for the soul.
So when I heard Merle Haggard was coming to town – I jumped at the chance. THE Merle Haggard. Playing in Fayetteville, Arkansas. One night only. We had to go.
So we did. We got all fancy and stuff with a babysitter and EVERYTHING. We met some friends for dinner and drinks before the show and had an absolute ball.
Scott and Tena work with me at Saatchi and are as fanatical about good country music as we are. (It's hard to tell from that picture, but Scott's shirt says: MAMA TRIED.) So we were quite the group.
Sadly – these are the best photos I could get with my phone of the actual show.
The only thing better would have been a venue with a dance floor! After the show, we loitered around the stage hoping for an extra glimpse of Merle.
And while we didn't get an autograph, if you look closely at that last photo you'll see that we got the next best thing.
The Hag's guitar pick!
He played several classics and a few new ones from his latest album – and he and his wife even channeled some Johnny and June and sang "Jackson". And even though I knew he couldn't play them all – we'd have been there all night! – I was sad we didn't hear some of my favorites. But the last song he played might have been my favorite of the night. It's the title song on his new album – I Am What I Am – and it's beautiful. Most of the show the crowd was singing and clapping along, but that last song was just his voice, his guitar and one guy playing the bass line in the background. And the place was otherwise almost silent. It was the most soulful song of the evening and it's the next thing I'm buying on iTunes. It's brand new and I can't even find the lyrics for you — but look it up. It's a good one.