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Merle Haggard Reflects On Old Age and God on Leno

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Merle Haggard Reflects On Old Age and God on Leno

  |   News   |   42 Comments

POSTED by Rolling Stone: February 9, 5:40 PM ET | By Andy Greene | Rolling Stone

Merle Haggard went on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno last night to perform the title track to his forthcoming LP I Am What I Am. The stellar song appears to be a sequel of sorts to his 1968’s “I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am” and 1980’s “The Way I Am.”


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This time around he’s reflecting on the latter stages of his life, as well as his views on religion. “I believe Jesus is God and a pig is just ham,” he sings. “I’m just a seeker. I’m just a sinner. I am what I am.”


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It’s been a big couple of years for Haggard. He recently made a complete recovery from lung cancer, and late last year was honored at the Kennedy Center. He’s also hoping to record a new LP with his longtime friends Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. “I’m sure if we’re healthy and live to do it, we’ll do it,” he told Rolling Stone.  “We thought about the title: the Musketeers. You know, because there’s the three of us. We’ll come up with some little way of describing ourselves I guess and put it together into a show.”

  • Michael | Aug 11, 2012 at 7:33 am

    HAG, seen u last night in Atlanta! Best show ever! I’ve wanted to see u since I was a kid. Hope to see u again! P.s. tell your family y’all were all great last night! I pledge allegiance to the HAG!

  • Marshall | Apr 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    My wife of 25 wonderful years and I have happily danced to your music since we began dating 30+ years ago. We missed your show in Tucson but will look for your new CD. Thanks for all the years of danceable music…the new “country” isn’t worth a damn. We love your music! The memories it evokes are precious.

  • CLOIE | Mar 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Merle;
    Another one of those life long fans! I’ll never forget sitting in a truck stop in Bakersfield in the late 70’s and heard “Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink” on the jukebox. I was hooked! Saw you in Portland Or a few years ago, and took several pics of you playing, which I treasure. I just saw your tour schedule, and see you will be in Oregon at Spirit Mt. in June. I’ll be there! We have a family restaurant at the foot of Mt Hood, and have many times said it would be so awesome if you could come there. Wow…you almost could this time between gigs! It would be a beautiful thing to see you walk through that door! If you actually get to read these posts, I have put the web-site info on the form, maybe you could look at it. It’s the coolest place on the mountain, with music all the time, Roadhouse style. Love and all the best to you,.see you June 1st. xxoo

  • don barker | Mar 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    my favorite memory is seeing you walk thru the front door of the “HUMORESQE CLUB” Hayward ca. 1964 and me ,the band leader asking you to go over to the steel player Rogers and he will tune you up. .. you were great ..I called Glenn and told him you gotta hear this guy. .. its great yourestill cooking. ..I wanna be your bass player .. hurray for Merle

  • Martha Magee | Jan 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    My family and I wish you a quick recovery. I have been a fan for many years. My oldest son, Mathew shares your birthday. He just had his 40th. He retired from the Marine Corps after 20 + years. A while back, we went to sing karaoke, he was singing “Misery and Gin”, I was amazed he knew the words by heart. I mentioned it to him, He said, Mom that is all we heard as kids”. He knew all your songs. I was delighted. God bless you and your family. Love, Martha Magee

  • john dunsdon | Jan 19, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I grew up in the sixties devouring your music,’played it very loud late in the evenings, from my workshop with the doors open , in a residential area of N. Devon England, hoping the rest of the town would appreciate your magical sound. I think it worked,I’m now in my late sixty’s and a local girl in our supermarket metioned your name as her true love!

  • Tommy Miller | Jan 19, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Hey Merle,
    My mom passed away in 2004 and while everyone else was grieving at the Motel we “Me, my son and girlfriend and my Uncle” decided to get away from it and ended up at Billy Bobs and you were there. You made it all better for us and we hope and pray you get better soon. My Mom adored you and I think us listening to some good country music was a lot better tribute to her life than having a pity party at the Motel. Get well and come to see us in Norman.

  • Charlie Randall | Jan 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Hey Merle, still listening to your music . Thanks for coming to Phan Rang AB in Viet Nam to play for the troops in 1970-71. I remember what a big hit you were with the troops and I just wanted to thank you .

  • Susie Blackmon | Jan 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Thrilled to see you in Ocala Saturday (01/14/12). I’ve been a fan for more years than I care to admit, and seeing you was very special to me. So is your new CD!

  • wayne | Jan 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    hi I have loved your music I wish you could come to my house for some r r to relax for awile I live in a little town newfoundland canada you would enjoy

  • Tom Davis | Jan 5, 2012 at 5:22 am

    I have been your fan forever. Thank you for your lyrics and music that still make me have have the feelings I do when I hear them.

  • Mike Matthews | Dec 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Just heard you were coming to Columbus, Ga. next month. I’ll have to go pick up two tickets for my wife and myself tommorrow. I sang two of your songs earlier tonight at a local Honky Tonk where I play. You’re still the man!

  • Mitch Coleman | Dec 3, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Merle, when I listen to your music, it’s just like sitting down with an old friend.
    I’m 55 years old and you are, without a doubt, the greatest influence on music in my lifetime. I’m a career professional pilot and there’s nothing I’d rather have in the cockpit than your songs when I’m flying. There’s only a handful of professional singer/songwriters in the musical history of the United States. Hank Williams/Jimmy Rodgers/Merle Haggard/ Bob Seger and a few others. But only a few have had the impact on Americana that you’ve had. Thanks for everything. I love the latest rendition of “Working Man Blues” on the new album. There’s nothing like enjoying “Merle’s Music” and a glass of Jim Beam and good cuban cigar on this earth as far as I’m concerned.
    Mitch Coleman

  • randy jones | Nov 14, 2011 at 4:39 am

    hey merle,
    in my book you are the man in music and i share your views also about our country,etc. we actually spent some time together in myrtle beach,sc back in 1994. i have pictures of all that ,one of which i had enlarged and you later signed for me at dollywood. outside the bus. i rest today in my soul,knowing you have accepted Jesus and believe in him. He is our only hope and the only hope for this country. I pray for you constantly and wish you all the best. –your friend forever,randy jones.

  • Gary Fishell | Sep 29, 2011 at 12:33 am


    I ran into Red Simpson and Larry Petree at Trouts a few months back. Great guys. Can’t wait to hear your new tunes. We’ll be 3rd row center stage at your Pechanga show on the 9th.

  • Brother Pavel | Aug 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Dear Merle,
    I am praying for people in Jesus name. I’d like to pray for America during your next event here in Spokane, WA.
    Thank You and God Bless!

  • Kevin Preston | Aug 9, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Australia here,
    I first heard your music sung by some one who became my friend in prison. That was 1973. He was called Merle by every one and his re-editions of your songs helped me get thru the worst perid of my life. I did not know that his name was Arther for sometime I allways thought it was Merle.
    We made a pact to come and see you in America but unfortunelately he died from alcohol in 1976. I hope to one day keep that promise to him.
    Any of your songs take me back to memories of him and the friendship we had.
    Thanks Merle

  • Joe Ganey | Aug 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Dear Merle, I first heard your music on a honky tonk jukebox in 1968 on my way to Viet Nam. I think I have all your music and songs since then. I’ve been able to attend several of your concerts. You and your band have always been excellant. I look forward to your new release. stay with it!! hang in there!! A lot of folks like me count on it.

  • sam b | Aug 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    just saw you last night in lancaster pa. its been 25+ yrs since we last saw you and its justas good now as then. its nice to know theres still REAL country music being played out there. the band was great, and merle, you were wonderful. stay well and thanks for keeping it real

  • shirley morris | Jul 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    hey merel seen u in renfro vally last year u are truly awsome u brought a chill all over me and i have a 4 yr old that loves to sing your song and he is awsome and he sing george jones song he loves the corvette song and loves to sing iam a branded man he is going to be the next merel and george jone i wish u could her him sing he really in joyed seeing u in renfro vally last year i love u and god be with u and teresa she is a very lucky woman

  • LINDA WELLS | May 31, 2011 at 10:31 pm


  • nancy zarle | May 25, 2011 at 9:50 am

    The greatest ever. All I listen to.

  • rose bellen | May 16, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Every time I think I have heard every song Merle has recorded, I find out, (thankfully), that I am wrong. On Saturday, I found two different videos on youtube of Merle singing In My Next Life. I listened to it several times, and sat there with tears streaming down my face. NO ONE sings a song like Merle. Along with his countless other fans, I love him so. Have only gotten to see him once in concert, but am surely hoping there will be another time. Love to Merle and Teresa and their family.

  • B Gregory | Apr 16, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Merle my son and I got to see you last fall in Ypsilanti MI. You were great as usual. Will you be touring again in Michigan because we would sure like to see you again. Sorry I missed you on Leno/

  • Danny McKee | Apr 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm


    Having reached 53 years and reflecting on the course of my life I find that I relate more and more to your natural insights into the plight of the common man in the modern world. Was there something in particular that turned your attention to a life in pursuit of truth.

    Thanks for the music and fine example of a life examined

  • Huia | Mar 19, 2011 at 3:22 am

    Kia ora Merle,
    from way ‘Down Under’ New Zealand. Been an avid fan for many years, just turned 71,and most nights tune in to Youtube and watch your video’s with my ear phones on,loving your musical talent.Life is a journey Hagg,and you certainly have lived yours,I personally dont think we will ever hear,or see the likes of Merle Haggard again. Thankyou for sharing,you are ‘The Legend’ and Im glad your recovery in health is going well.
    God Bless you Merle,
    God Bless the ‘Hagg’

    Love Huiaterangi (skybird) ..New Zealand..

    • jan | May 3, 2011 at 7:36 am

      I am 74yrs young and listen to y0ur music every night when I go to bed you are the best. no other like you. I am still waiting for you to come to london uk so I can see you in the flesh.when will that happen i have asked the question before and I am still waiting for that cant keep a girl waiting for too long. My fave song at the moment is” going where the lonly go.” tomorrow it will be another song because all of them I can relate to in my life. Ihave just arranged my funeraland guess what the music I have chosen is naturally from you Going into the place I want them to play “Why me Lord” then a wee prayer and when the coffin goes I want them to play “where no one stand alone” and after a couple of speeches on leaving I want them to play “listening to the wind” next to my husband who passed over 4 years ago now you will both be with me one way or another.Love you both keep well xx

  • janet madison | Mar 17, 2011 at 6:26 am

    hey merle youve got it and always will have it you’ll always be my love..true love from the heart you are next to the big man in my book.Jesus Christ.there aint no other musician or any man on earth like ya…we all have faults and bad ways no one is perfect but one and they crucified him.Just wanted to let you know I do love you
    and Theresa too.Like it is stated we are what we are(I am What I am)You are truly the finest that American has produced.Great job at Concho OK. as always.Am praying for you ..your looking greater than,physique, just everything.You have truly been an inspiration tome.Glad youve shave picture taking with me down through the times and being so good to let me have the chance to do the things you and Theresa let me do once again.Nothing could ever repace that in life for sure.Take care and lookin g so forward to the next tour.Each time i get to see ya is a blessing to me and my heart.It has been life to ME.Keep on keeping on will be praying that God gives you the strength to do so.Your music is in my home 24-7..never tired of such a good thing…Blessings toyou now and always..

  • jan | Mar 12, 2011 at 4:46 am

    glad to read that you have quit the drugs and staying sober have you heard of alan jackson my nephew bought me in a cd of his and he is just great and his songs renind me of you a bit. but you are still my “love” after my hubby of course. I am just waiting for delivery of Iam what I am and chicago wind..still you are my fav love you and I’ll drink to that

  • Carol McKenzie | Mar 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Was blessed to see last nights show with you and Kris at Cherokee. It was awesome to see you having such a good time. You are truly an American Treasure.

    Carol McKenzie, A Kern Co Okie Transplant

  • Hilda Harris | Mar 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Saw Kris and you at Cherokee March 6th. You were both great!! Have listened to your music for many years. You are a true American icon.

  • Russ Callahan | Feb 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    One of the finest America has ever produced…along the lines of, and in the company of Bob Wills. Merles’ music helped me become a better man. I can share this with my sons and be “proud of being a feeling human being.

  • Russ | Feb 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Hey Hag! You have been an inspiration to me my whole life. Is your political belief what you sing in your songs? I hope so! See you in Cherokee, NC on the 4th!!

  • Ina | Feb 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I saw him on the Tonight Show also. I just wish Leno took time to interview him.

  • Elmer | Feb 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Enjoyed your recent show in Melbourne, Florida! As always a great show!

  • Randal Brown | Feb 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Great job!!!! As always, and still your songs are from the heart and perfect for the working man!!! Gonna see you in KC in March, and hope to get some pics too. You are and always have been my favorite singer, even when I was just a kid I related to a lot of stuff you wrote about. Keep singing and writing those great tunes!!!!!!!

  • Corey | Feb 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm


  • Gena Jeffery | Feb 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I saw your performance on Leno. It was good. I especially liked the line about I believe Jesus is God. i just talked to an atheist the other day and it’s refreshing to hear you sing what you did. The atheist is an actor out in California, he was famous back in the 70’s and 80’s. He seemed almost arrogant. I am praying for him everyday and I will pray for you too.

  • Hua | Feb 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Amazing! I love this new track! Can’t wait to see him in May!

  • Carl Kaiser | Feb 12, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Way to go Merle! Great job! Your biggest fan ; ) When you coming to AZ again?

  • Robert Tillinghast, jr. | Feb 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    You and Me both Mr. Haggard. ” I am what I am Too.” Glad to hear You Beat the Cancer . I took Care of My Wife Wanda for 11 Months till She Past Dec,17.2009J. I sang to her alot and I mostly Sang Jones songs to her ” I sound like Him” and Afew of Yours Too. It helped alot during those Damn Kemo. Traetments. I just Lost My Good Friend And Former Boss Bob Davis From North East Md. From Lung Cancer. He quit Smoking over Twenty Years Ago. Well He is with The Lord Now. Have You Ever thought of Covering Jones,s “Wino The Clown.” Its my Favorite Jones song to sing and I would Love to Hear Your Interprataion of What I consider The Realist Country Song Ever Written. I pray For Hagg. Please Pray For Me. Im Getten Kind of Scared.

  • Josh Williams | Feb 10, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Hey Merle, that was a great performence on Leno the night before last. As the article said I’m glad you are foucusing on religon some also.