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Marty Stuart Remembers His 'Dearest Friend' Merle Haggard

Merle haggard Songs | Marty Stuart Remembers His 'Dearest Friend' Merle Haggard | Country Music Videos
Photo credit: AP Photo via The Clarion-Ledger

According to Marty Stuart, April 5th and 6th will forever be two of his most memorable days.

His father's birthday was April 5th and his good friend Merle Haggard's birthday and now, day of death, is April 6th.

It was announced Thursday (April 7) that Haggard had already planned his funeral arrangements. He requested that Stuart's wife, country legend Connie Smith, sing "Precious Memories", that he and Smith sing "Silver Wings", and that he officiate the service.

Stuart revealed that Haggard never told him about these plans, but he's more than honored to do it.

WSMV-TV Nashville caught up with Stuart to speak with him about his friend and comrade.

"I've lost one of my dearest friends on this earth," Stuart said. "I'm gonna miss him very much".

The two met in the late 1970s backstage at the Opry house. "The minute we shook hands we became friends. Lifelong friends," he said, correcting himself.

When asked what his favorite Merle Haggard song was, Stuart stumbled a bit because there are so many to choose from. 

He told a story of how the Library of Congress called him to get a nomination of what song should be entered into the National Registry and he nominated Haggard's "Mama Tried", so that would probably be his favorite song at the moment.

Just recently, it was announced that "Mama Tried" is one of 25 songs that have been selected for induction into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.

Stuart was full of stories of how influential and brilliant Haggard was and we could listen to them all day.

Stuart talked about a song he and Smith wrote called "Farmer's Blue's", which he envisioned singing with Haggard. One night, Stuart called Haggard to sing him the song. When he sang the lyrics "I walk the land, I watch the sky", Haggard suggested changing just one word.

Stuart recalls the conversation well. Haggard asked him, "How about 'I work the land'?" Stuart responded, "That's why you're Merle Haggard."

"He was the poet of the common man," he said. Officiating the funeral won't be hard, he says. The hardest part will be figuring out what stories to leave out.

Two weeks ago, Haggard called Stuart from the hospital with a song called "My Last Escape" and who knows, maybe Stuart will record it one day.

He ended the interview with one thing for people to remember about Haggard: "He was a friend. He knew how to be a friend. Not just to me, but to the whole world."

Watch the full interview below.

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