Merle Haggard’s final song, “Kern River Blues,” dropped today (May 12).
Penned by Haggard and featuring his son Ben on electric guitar, “Kern River Blues” is about the country great’s memories of leaving Bakersfield in the late ‘70s, according to a message posted to his official Website. The track was recorded Feb. 9 at the singer’s Hag Studios as he was battling with the pneumonia that would ultimately take his life. Its lyrics carry extra weight in light of his passing. Haggard died April 6 at the age of 79.
“Well, I’m leaving town forever/Kiss an old boxcar goodbye/Well, I’m leaving town forever/Kiss an old boxcar goodbye/I dug my blues down in the river/But the old Kern River is dry,” he sings in its final verse.
The Haggard family decided to release “Kern River Blues” as a way of “thanking everyone” for their “tremendous outpouring of love and prayers” for the artist. They’ve decided to donate 10% of all gross proceeds from its sale to homeless charities.
Listen to “Kern River Blues” here.