With Prince supposedly possessing a vault of thousands of unreleased recordings and David Bowie leaving "enough material ... to be released over the next five years," it isn't a great surprise that an artist with a career as vast as Merle Haggard's would have a couple of things left unheard. However, what is exciting is when that individual, much like Bowie in his Blackstar phase – the final persona from the ever-evolving artist – deems material worthy of release after their demise, before they are gone.
"Kern River Blues" was recorded at Haggard's home studio on February 9, just weeks before he would succumb to double pneumonia, and is being premiered on SiriusXM's Willie's Roadhouse channel 59 at 4 p.m. It will subsequently be available for download from merlehaggard.com and iTunes.
According to "the poet of the common man's" website, the song is being released as a thank you to the millions of fans that showed their support to the Haggard family, including son Ben who plays guitar on the track, the last recording ever laid down by Haggard.
10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the single, which recalls Haggard leaving his home of Bakersfield, California in the early '7os, will go to homeless charities.