Merle Haggard: The authentic and gifted voice of the people

April 6, 2016 9:14 PM

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Merle Haggard's songs always seemed to channel the people he sang for through his 79 years: blue-collar workers, prison inmates, forlorn lovers and everyday Americans looking for signs of reassurance or stability as their world changed around them.

He didn't invent the so-called "Bakersfield sound" in country music, a punchier, twangier, edgier counterpoint to what was coming out of Nashville's recording studios in the 1950s and '60s. That credit belongs to some of Haggard's predecessors in the oil- and agricultural-rooted community: Tommy Col...

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