Sometimes in the archives of country music history, hidden gems resurface that leave fans wondering, “Where has this video been all my life?” The latest discovery to grace the screens of Merle Haggard fans is a performance that shows his great talent for impressions.
The year was 1969, and the stage was set for The Ralph Emery Special. Merle Haggard, alongside his then-wife Bonnie Owens, took center stage to pay homage to a classic duet that had stolen the hearts of fans at the time – Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s iconic 1967 hit, “Jackson.”
Merle’s Funny Impersonation
Merle’s introduction alone is pure comedy. As he struts around the stage, he flawlessly imitates Johnny Cash’s unmistakable mannerisms and deep voice, kicking things off with a humorous nod to the audience.
“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. We’d like to welcome you to WSM The Grand Ole Opry, Music City, USA. Tonight, we have with us some of the greatest names in country music, Mr. Marty Robbins, Marty…”
With a mischievous glint in his eye, Merle playfully transitions into the opening lines of “Okie From Muskogee,” while getting the audience laughing. He then calls for his wife Bonnie to join him in a rendition of “Jackson.” Yet, this is no ordinary performance – it’s a remix of witty alterations to the words.
Merle smiles as he changes the lyrics, replacing “pepper sprout” with “popcorn sprout,” while also injecting random lines borrowed from Cash’s other hits like “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Orange Blossom Special.”
What truly makes this performance a must-see for any Merle Haggard fan is his spot-on Johnny Cash impersonation. With every carefully mimicked nuance and inflection, Merle channels Cash in a way that just makes the crowd go crazy.
So, if you’re a Merle Haggard fan seeking a delightful glimpse into the past – a moment where he is being funny and playful – this performance is an absolute must-watch.