In a rare and candid interview conducted by news anchor Dan Rather back in September 2013, the legendary Merle Haggard revealed a deeply personal fear that lies beneath his decision to continue his music career rather than retire.
Fans of the country music icon, known for his soulful ballads and gritty storytelling, were left both intrigued and moved as Haggard opened up about his struggle with the haunting idea of retiring.
When asked by Rather why he chooses to keep working despite having achieved very high levels of success, Haggard responded with a vulnerability statement that everyone watching could understand or relate to.
“I’m scared of the loneliness,” he admitted to Dan Rather, his voice tinged with a mix of honesty and a feeling of fear. “It’ll get awful quiet, awful quick. If you want to be left alone, they’ll leave you alone. People leave you alone. But you don’t want that. And I don’t want it either. I mean, we want to be what we will have been all of our life and we want to continue, and we don’t want to ever die. And you know that’s the next big event once you retire.”
Merle Haggard Shares His Soft Side (Rare Moment)
The revelation that the man often perceived as fearless and indomitable carries within him such a profound fear struck a chord with fans worldwide. Merle Haggard, with his remarkable ability to capture the raw emotions of the human experience through his music, showed a vulnerable side that many had not seen before.
Even Rather, who was well-acquainted with Haggard’s unwavering spirit, couldn’t help but express surprise. “You’re scared of the loneliness,” he mused. Haggard, with a posture of being serious and dignified, simply replied, “Yep.“
The country music legend went on to explain how the passage of time compounds the weight of this fear. As one grows older, the circle of acquaintances naturally diminishes, leaving a sense of isolation that becomes increasingly profound.
“You think about somebody 90 years old that they don’t know anybody that’s older than them, you know?” Haggard said as he pondered. “And it’s got to be a much better life if you’re Merle Haggard with a big fan base trying to play and try to keep your craft up to standards, and I think that keeps you alive.”
Merle Haggard’s words struck a chord not only with his fans but with anyone who has ever contemplated becoming old and the haunting idea of loneliness. The vulnerability he displayed in that interview showcased the depth of his humanity, endearing him even further to his devoted followers.
Despite battling heart and respiratory problems that landed him in the hospital multiple times during his final years, Merle Haggard remained dedicated to his fans, continuing to tour relentlessly until his passing on April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday, succumbing to pneumonia.
We are eternally grateful to this legendary artist who always bared his soul through the power of song and always kept it one hundred percent truthful in all his interviews.