From the start of his career to his passing in 2016, Merle Haggard had a strong impact on artists worldwide. Now, artists like platinum-selling Easton Corbin are keeping his legacy alive in their music. In his latest single, “Hey Merle,” Corbin pays tribute to Haggard, who he dubs as one of the “biggest influences” of his career.
The Florida native summons his traditional sound as he digs into the depths of his roots and asks the questions he wishes his musical heroes were still around to answer. In this song that Corbin co-penned alongside Rodney Clawson and Wade Kirby, not only did he give a nod to Merle Haggard, but also to the late country music icon, Hank Williams.
“If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you that Merle Haggard is one of my biggest influences. I wouldn’t be who I am without some of our legends like Merle and Hank Williams,” Corbin shared in a recent press release.
“Now the Cadillac and the cowboy hat and the high that you were on/Still covers us with neon dust cause the legends never gone/Yeah, you made ’em go ooo-ooo-ooo when you’d sing them songs/Did you think we’d all be here still singing along, singing along/Hey Merle,” Corbin sings in the chorus.
The catchy track references several of the legends’ signature songs including Haggard’s “Swinging Doors” and “Okie from Muskogee” and Williams’ “I Saw The Light,” “Hey Good Lookin’”.
“When Wade threw out ‘Hey Merle’ for the title – it felt like a no-brainer,” he continued. “We had to write that. We had so much fun being able to take elements from some of their hits and tie them into this song.”
“Hey Hank, did you see the light at the end of that lost highway/Hey Hank, on the other side do you still get a little sideways/Nothing like a little hey good looking, to heal those lovesick blues/We’re still out here honky tonkin’ all because of you,” Corbin sings in reference to Williams.
With his new album in the works, Corbin dropped this digital release, which also included a re-recorded version of his 2019 single, “Somebody’s Gotta be Country.” The charming track was written by songwriter powerhouses Ashley Gorley, Rhett Akins, and Dallas Davidson.
Easton Corbin follows in Haggard’s footsteps as he leads with determination. Born April 6th, 1937 near Bakersfield, California, Haggard turned out to be an accomplished singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, but his journey was far from easy. As a result of a robbery gone wrong, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison at a young age. Haggard ended up using music as an authentic and honest diary that he shared with the world.
In terms of his personal life, the “Mama Tried” singer was married five times and became a father of six children. Between becoming a father and his strong desire to stay off death row, Haggard changed his ways and become a model citizen.
His career blended the stylings of country and rock & roll and spanned over six decades. In that time, he earned 38 No. 1 hits and won several major music awards, including four Grammys. Haggard kept up his touring schedule until he passed from pneumonia on his 79th birthday, April 6, 2016, in his California home.
Although he wasn’t exactly a star role model, the Country Music Hall of Famer broke barriers in the industry. As a result of his raw talent and perseverance, artists are now given the strength to do the same in their careers.