Tom Waits Shares Moving Tribute to Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard 2016
Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

Merle Haggard performs at the Stagecoach Country music festival at The Empire Polo Club on April 24, 2015 in Indio, Calif. 

Tom Waits has penned a touching tribute to the late country great Merle Haggard

Waits, who grew up around San Diego, not far from where Haggard was born, recalls how his formative years were shaped by the iconic artist.

“When I was a teenager I was listening to songs like they were books and studied them to learn how to write songs of my own. Who ever thought that something great could come out of Bakersfield? It made me feel a whole lot better about living in a place called National City,” writes Waits in Rolling Stone

Merle Haggard: Born an Outsider, Died an Icon

Haggard, he noted, had a knack for taking the “lives of common ordinary folks who we had all stopped seeing and put them in songs and gave them a voice, and kept them alive.”

His voice was golden, writes Waits, and his songs were “lived in, broke in and filled with longing – his last name will always be an adjective. Merle’s songs are train-like…lonesome, well made and hard as hell. May they always keep moving.”

'Merle Did Things His Way': Country Radio Programmers Cite Haggard's Enduring Influence 

In other news, Hag’s incredible life story may yet be told in a feature-length film. According to Deadline, a script has been completed on Haggard’s journey, which began in a converted boxcar, included time in San Quentin prison and flourished into a Hall of Fame country music career. The project, entitled, Done It All, has reportedly been penned by Cliff Hollingsworth, who wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated James Braddock biopic Cinderella Man

The outlaw country icon died April 6 at age 79 after a battle with pneumonia.

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