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Merle Haggard returns to stage for first time after cancer surgery

Friday, January 2, 2009 – Merle Haggard is returning to the stage tonight in California for his first shows since undergoing lung cancer surgery in early November.

In an interview with Reuters, Haggard said, "I think we can stir up some good humor out there among the folks that are crying for good news, and just give them a moment's happiness."

The Hag will play tonight and tomorrow in Bakersfield at the Crystal Palace, which he claimed were the first shows where he performed without using tobacco or marijuana, he said. "So it's gonna be interesting as to what kind of a show comes out of this body that's used to performing the other way."

Haggard said he quit using either four days before his Nov. 3 surgery. He does not need radiation or chemotherapy.

He also intended to keep busy on the road this year, he said in the interview, playing atypical sites, such as churches, hospitals and prisons. "Especially women's prisons, they get overlooked," he said. "We played a women's prison in Wyoming one time, and it was the greatest response I've ever received in my life. Forty women was all that were there, and 40 women cried when we left."

Haggard's last disc was "The Bluegrass Sessions" in 2007 on Del McCoury's label.

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CD reviews for Merle Haggard

Working in Tennessee CD review - Working in Tennessee
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I Am What I Am CD review - I Am What I Am
It seems that the legendary country artists who survive to their later years, often make some of their best music during that time. It certainly was true with Johnny Cash and apparently Merle Haggard is primed to follow suit. The evidence of that is spread all over his new 12-song outing. Haggard has gone introspective, but he has done it in such a way that most of the songs are easy for the listeners to apply to their own experiences. The opener, I've Seen It Go Away, is about losing the »»»
Legendary Performances DVD CD review - Legendary Performances DVD
The Strangers are a talented and extremely flexible band, as Haggard's mood can vary from showing off his rich singing voice on ballads to playing the jazzy guitar hero via Western swing material. Thus, it takes a multi-faceted combo, like The Strangers, to keep up with Haggard's many moods. This disc collects 15 Haggard TV clips, and the man is definitely not lip synching his way through these performances. For instance, viewers can clearly hear The Hag clear his throat right before »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kristofferson gives insight, but no easy answers – When they say music gets better with age, they're not always just talking about songs alone; sometimes they're also referring to the listener. When Kris Kristofferson sings, "Well, I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt," to smartly open "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," he... »»»
Concert Review: No sugarcoating, Welch dishes out an experience – Gillian Welch (accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings), celebrated her "The Harrow & The Harvest" album with a powerful night of music. She apologized many times for the utter unhappiness expressed through this album's songs, admitting it's "not the most chipper album" at one point.... »»»
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