Hearing Kern River always brings back the cautionary tales we were told as children… we always knew better than to even take our shoes off and put our feet into it. That and the billboard at the entrance to Kern Canyon telling you how many people had drowned so far this year.This is a fantastic thread, but a tough decision.
First, "He Stopped Loving Her Today".
To paraphrase a quote from a Merle Haggard interview, it sounded good when first released, and it'll still sound good a hundred years from now.
Few of us have been able to mention only one, so here goes.
"What's Your Mama's Name ". One of the great story telling songs.
"Texas In My Rearview Mirror". Mac Davis captured a perfect blend of intelligent lyrics, catchy tune, and foot tapping rhythm....it's amazingly well constructed. I never get tired of hearing it.
"Faded Love". The fiddle national anthem.
No one has mentioned any instrumentals that I noticed, so I'll throw in Maidens Prayer and Buckaroo.
My father's favorite song, "Green Green Grass of Home".
I've been asked dozens of times since I started doing Haggard tribute shows, what my favorite song of his is.... I'm going to have to say "Kern River".
Here's a couple reasons why. It's not only about the girlfriend dying, there's a lot of California packed into the song. I am no more a Californian than Merle was an Okie; but it doesn't keep me from relating.
When I had my own band, my drummer had lived in Porterville, CA for a while. He always got misty eyed when we did the song.
Fun fact: I once got us a $100 tip for singing Kern River as a request. One never forgets those moments onstage.
I often sing "Your Cheatin' Heart at our gigs...