Local musicians pay tribute to Merle Haggard

Tara Baucom


Columbus Arts Council hosted “Silver Wings: A Tribute to Merle Haggard” on Oct. 7 at Rosenzwieg Arts Center.  

The tribute concert featured covers of some of Haggard’s most famous hits, including "Silver Wings," "Fighting Side of Me" and "Mama Tried." Jerry Carnatham, lead singer and W alum, was inspired to put together a tribute after Haggard’s death in April of this year.  

"I've always wanted to do it for years,” said Carnatham. “It's been something I had in mind for years, and I had some guys in mind to do it.”  

Among the attendees were Farley Shaw and his wife, Alice Shaw. Farley Shaw was raised in the same area of California as Haggard and grew up hearing his music. The couple agreed that the spirit of Haggard was well-captured through the tribute.  

"I think they’ve done a really good job," said Alice Shaw.

Farley Shaw was touched by one song in particular called "Kern River." The lyrics described how popular and dangerous the California river was and how many people lost their lives to it during the summer months.  

"When they sang that song, it just took me back to my childhood," said Farley Shaw.  

Haggard was often called the “poet of the common man” because he wrote his songs from personal experiences. Many related to the songs and used Haggard’s works to get them through rough times. 

"It's just everyday issues, things that everybody goes through or something real close,” said Carnatham. “He's got something for everybody, all kinds of people. There is something in some song somewhere that touches folks.