Dozens of fans, media and legislative staffers gathered on the south steps of the Captiol on March 18 for a ceremony to honor the contributions of country music legend Merle Haggard.
State Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels, authored House Resolution 634, highlighting the singer's long history.
"From humble beginnings to becoming a country and western legend and hero to many, we are honored to recognize [him] today with a resolution from the Texas House of Representatives," Miller said.
He continued, referencing several of Haggard's songs, "Whether you're a workin man with the blues, ever flown on silver wings, you've known an Okie from Muskogee or, like me, have been drinking misery and gin because I'm a fool who chased a rainbow … no matter what your lot in life, literally millions of people have their lives [represented] in one of Merle Haggard's songs. "
Haggard and his Strangers created a sound that thousands of bands—including Miller's own—have tried to emulate, Miller said.
"Christmas in 1967, my mother and father gave me a portable record player and two albums. I can't remember who the other album was, but I will tell you the one that I wore out was 'The Best of Merle Haggard.' From that point until today, I've been one of Merle's most ardent fans," he said.
Ilissa Nolan, House of Representatives reading clerk, read the resolution, which began, "For nearly half a century, the music of Merle Haggard has championed those familiar with the hardships of life, and the evocative songs of this country music legend have made a lasting mark on American music and earned him recognition as the poet of the common man."
Haggard spoke briefly to the crowd who had gathered on the steps.
"It's really something special to be here in the great state of Texas, and [to] have honors for me after all the years that I've spent here," Haggard said. "I really sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart."
"Thank you!" responded a member of the crowd.