Tom Waits pens tribute to Merle Haggard

The singer-songwriter said the country star influenced him from a young age

Tom Waits has penned a poetic tribute to country icon Merle Haggard.

Haggard died earlier this month due to complications from pneumonia, he was 79.

Waits, who grew up in San Diego, California, not far from where Haggard was born, said that the musician had an impact on him during his formative years in a tribute published in Rolling Stone.


He writes: “When I was a teenager I was listening to songs like they were books and studied them to learn how to write songs of my own. Who ever thought that something great could come out of Bakersfield? It made me feel a whole lot better about living in a place called National City.”

Waits goes on to say that he admires how Haggard “takes the lives of common ordinary folks who we had all stopped seeing and put them in songs and gave them a voice, and kept them alive.”

He adds: “‘Haggard songs’ are lived in, broke in and filled with longing – his last name will always be an adjective.”

Following news of Haggard’s death, a number of musicians took to social media to honour the star.

Fellow country legend Willie Nelson wrote on Twitter that Haggard “was my brother, my friend. I will miss him”.


Ringo Starr added to the tributes, writing: “God bless Merle Haggard peace and love to all his family. Merle was a hero of mine peace and love”.

“We’ve lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time,” Dolly Parton said. “His heart was as tender as his love ballads. I loved him like a brother. Rest easy, Merle.”