It doesn't happen often, but on rare occasions two performers have precisely the same names, spelled identically. It makes confusion inevitable. If both are living, one might alter their stage name. But what happens if they both lived in (almost) different eras?
Consider the case of two singers named Jimmie Rodgers, where the only connection is the first died the year the second was born.
Only once did the father of jazz and the father of modern country music meet and it was but one song, but a memorable one.
Merle Haggard changed my life.
Merle Haggard, long before he died Tuesday (his 79th birthday) of pneumonia, years after he'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, was one of America's great troubadours. It wasn't just his voice, but his brilliant, nuanced songwriting that managed to touch the heart, the mind and the gut simultaneously in a way few American composers could ever hope to equal. Today, we'll talk about the impact. Tomorrow, I'll tell you how he changed my life.
My review of the new Willie Nelson-Merle Haggard collaboration, released today.