The world lost the legendary Merle Haggard last April but he is making a quick comeback with the September 23rd re-release of his 1973 Christmas album titled Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present.
That album featured the now classic song It We Make It Through December, a song that hit #1 on the charts and has since made its mark as a classic of Christmas music.
Haggard is likely the single most influential song-writer in country music history. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped to create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, and new vocal harmony styles.
By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country movement, and he continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s. In 1994, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1997, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
Merle’s Christmas Present was released before the era of music videos but thanks to traditional television variety shows there is at least some record of Haggard on film performing his biggest Christmas hit. This clip comes from a 1977 Donny & Marie Christmas show and it gives us a better look at a younger Haggard in his prime: