Kern River Blues

Album: Single release only (2016)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • In the months prior to his death on April 6, 2016, Merle Haggard spent much of his energy battling pneumonia. However, the country icon carried on writing when he was able. This song, recorded on February 9, 2016 at Haggard's Hag Studios, was his final recording.
  • The song, which features Haggard's son Ben on electric guitar, finds the country legend reflecting on his memories of leaving Bakersfield in the late '70s. His farewells in the final verse are eerily prescient.

    Well, I'm leaving town forever
    Kiss an old boxcar goodbye
    I dug my blues down in the river
    But the old Kern River is dry

    The Kern River flows through the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.
  • The Haggard family allowed the song to be a posthumous release as a way of "thanking everyone" for their "tremendous outpouring of love and prayers" for Merle. Ten percent of all gross proceeds from its sale were donated to homeless charities.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 1

  • Tommy G from Austin, Tx"KERN RIVER BLUES" One of Merle's best songs, not from a "commercial value" necessarily, but from true emotional meaning that comes through as he recorded his last song, a great tribute to Merle, a true entertainer!
see more comments

Dean PitchfordSongwriter Interviews

Dean wrote the screenplay and lyrics to all the songs in Footloose. His other hits include "Fame" and "All The Man That I Need."

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Wedding Bell BluesSong Writing

When a song describes a wedding, it's rarely something to celebrate - with one big exception.

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.

Strange MagneticsSong Writing

How Bing Crosby, Les Paul, a US Army Signal Corps Officer, and the Nazis helped shape rock and Roll.

Supertramp founder Roger HodgsonSongwriter Interviews

Roger tells the stories behind some of his biggest hits, including "Give a Little Bit," "Take the Long Way Home" and "The Logical Song."