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Earlier this afternoon, news broke that Merle Haggard had died. He was 79. In fact, he turned 79 today.

In honor of the Okie From Muskogee, here’s a great anecdote from Jefferson Cowie‘s Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class about the time Haggard played at the White House for Pat Nixon‘s birthday party in 1973:

Rest easy, Merle.

Photo by Flickr user Jeremy Luke Roberts under a Creative Common License