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Merle Haggard Says Modern Country Is ‘Not Enough Substance’

Merle Haggard
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Merle Haggard is a country music legend, and with four projects in the works, he’s still going strong after a five-decade career … but he’s not so sure he likes where the genre is headed.

The Country Music Hall of Fame inductee admits that even after all these years in the business, he doesn’t listen to country radio anymore, because he no longer finds it entertaining.

“I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t really listen to the radio at all anymore,” Haggard explains to News Observer. “Once in a while, I’ll scan it and I don’t understand what they’re doing. I can’t find the entertainment in it.”

Haggard furthers that modern country music lacks “substance,” something he’s valued since he got started. “I know these guys, occasionally play shows with them and they’re all good people. But I wonder if that record they’re making is something they can actually do,” the legend says. “Too much boogie boogie wham-bam and not enough substance.”

“It’s all the same musicians, too, probably eight to 10 musicians play on every record you hear,” Haggard adds. “For a musician hearing things that way, you can tell when a certain guitarist is playing. I know more about the musicians than the artists, actually.”

The legend, whose first No. 1 hit came in 1966’s ‘I’m a Lonely Fugitive,’ hasn’t unleashed an album since 2010, when ‘I Am What I Am’ was released. The singer is back to work, though — he has a total of four projects in the works!

“We’ve got four different album projects that are all almost finished, and we’ll bring them out in continuity,” Haggard shares. “We’ve got a brand-new studio and we’ve been recording right along all the way, although the lack of radio play for the new stuff makes it difficult. You know, if they put on a new song of mine, they’ve gotta take off ‘Mama Tried.’ So I’m kind of fighting myself on new releases.”

Should We Quit Complaining About Modern Country Music?

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