January 16

Soar High with Merle Haggard’s ‘Silver Wings’ and Its Golden Story

Soar High with Merle Haggard's 'Silver Wings' and Its Golden Story 1

Whenever “Silver Wings” is played in the background, who could ever forget the famous music icon ‘The Hag’?

Yes, it is American country singer-songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler Merle Ronald Haggard. Although we’re saddened for his passing due to pneumonia on his 79th birthday 6 years ago, his poignant music still lives on. One of these is his ‘Silver Wings‘.

Let’s fly high with The Hag’s 1969 hit Silver Wings as we unravel its ‘golden story‘.

‘Silver Wings’: Its Golden Story

Although it wasn’t a no. 1 hit, Silver Wings has endured as one of Haggard’s greatest heartbreakers, on par with Mickey Newbury at his most mournful.

In an interview with the UK magazine Uncut, Merle Haggard recalled the story of this mournful song saying

“It was written on a plane – a 707 coming out of Phoenix, Arizona going to LA with Bonnie Owens. I looked out and those silver wings were just gleaming. I thought, ‘What a great premise for a song.'”

Romanticizing an airplane’s “silver wings” that took away his lover, Haggard sang so intimately that you wondered if you were eavesdropping. Even the way he plays his instruments, one couldn’t finish the song but be moved by this tear-jerking music.

…Don’t leave me, I cried
Don’t take that airplane ride
But you locked me out of your mind
And left me standing here behind…

‘The Hag’

Incarcerated several times in his youth, Merle Haggard managed to turn his life around and launch a successful country music career. He gained popularity with his songs about the working class. These occasionally obtained themes in contrary to the prevailing anti-Vietnam War sentiment of the much popular music of the time.

Between the 1960s and the 1980s, he had 38 number-one hits on the US country charts, several of which also made the Billboard all-genre singles chart. Haggard continued to release successful albums into the 2000s.

Moreover, he received many honors and awards for his music. Among his accolades include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, a BMI Icon Award in 2006. He also received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2010.

In addition, he got inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977, Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 1997.

On April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday, he passed away at his ranch in Shasta County, California, having recently suffered from double pneumonia.

Watch and sing with ‘The Hag’ in his Silver Wings.


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