The interesting thing was that the audience was made up of twenty-somethings all the way up to seventy-ish (MH's age). I was sitting in a row of twentysomething working men and these people all(!) knew these Haggard songs by heart and sang along. I made a list as the evening went on:
* That's The Way Love Goes
* Silver Wings
* If We Make It Through December
* Sing Me Back Home
* Rainbow Stew
* Set Me Free
* Kern River
* Okie From Muskogee
Of course, there were many, many songs performed but these listed had instances of spontaneous sing-a-longs. What a thing to write songs that people identify with so strongly! Setting aside subject matter and the fact that more than a few audience members were drunk, as a writer I have to learn to connect so strongly and to cut such a wide swath age-wise. This was phenomenal.
Writers and performers often talk about touching lives with their craft as a primary motivator. For a moment, I want to ignore the demographics of the audience, which, again, was roughly aged 20 - 75, neither predominantly male nor female, and was kind of a mixture of honky-tonk partiers and upper middle class concert goers.
Here is a man who has an enormous body of work. It has been covered many times over by other famous artists and is well enough known that the entire demographic I mentioned above could sing along spontaneously. Isn't Merle touching lives? Again, let's not get tangled up over "how" he is touching them, or to what end. Let's look at the big picture and realize that lives can be touched in this way. Let's take courage from that and figure out how to do it in a way that we can "overcome evil with good" as Romans 12 says.