But Haggard’s real gift is that anyone who hears his songs recognizes the truth in them.
– quoted from his Website, merlehaggard.com
The Musical Evangelist
Following his diagnosis of lung cancer in 2008, Merle Haggard called that stage of his life as the greatest test of his fortitude. His surgery was successful and after fully recovering, he’s back on tour.
As he went along, he openly spoke more of his faith. He told The Christian Post that he’ll shout to the world what the Lord did to him. With that motive in mind, Haggard’s gospel tracks turned him into a musical evangelist. Testimonials from the Christian blogospheres mention how they learned of God’s salvation through Merle’s songs.
One notable quote was from the Religion Dispatches in the words of Craig Werner.
“I owe a lot to that faith, not least of which was my own salvation, in a way. At a time when I was drinking too much and not finding enough direction in life, a friend slipped me a tape of Haggard—among many other country stars—singing gospel. It finally occurred to me one night while smoking a Lucky Strike that I liked the album not just because the music was so good, but because the message was something I needed to hear. That propelled me into an adult faith, and from there into seminary and a career spent mostly serving a lot of people who looked and sounded like Merle Haggard.”
Here’s a summary of all his Gospel albums.
1971- The Land of Many Churches (traditional hymns, 24 tracks)
1981 – Songs for the Mama That Tried (an allusion to his 1968 hit, Mama Tried, 11 tracks)
1999 – Two Old Friends (with Albert Brumley Jr., 11 tracks
1999 – Cabin in the Hills (a mixture of traditional gospel and Merle Haggard’s originals, 10 tracks)