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Mama Tried

May 16, 2016

Excellent, Ronnie!

Ronnie McBrayer

mamaWhen I heard the news last month that country music legend Merle Haggard had died, I immediately remembered a rainy night in Georgia more than thirty years earlier. With oozing red clay rising above the ankles of my Converse tennis shoes, I slogged through a monsoon to a pole barn in an open field, a pole barn with sawdust on the ground, metal folding chairs, and a stage.

On that stage was “The Hag,” in his prime, spinning his mythical tunes for a sold-out show. It was the first live concert I ever attended, the largest crowd I had ever seen, and for a child reared in strict, Appalachian fundamentalism that eschewed all “worldly” and “carnal” corruptions, it was the opening to a whole new world.

With the news report still fresh and my memories fresher, the first tune that I began to sing to myself was Merle’s iconic 1968…

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