Opry’s ‘Merle Haggard Tribute Show’ With Cody Johnson, Clint Black & More to Air Sept. 3

by Jim Casey

The Grand Ole Opry celebrated the music of icon Merle Haggard during a tribute show on April 6 that featured performances by his son Marty Haggard, Suzy Bogguss, Clint Black, Cody Johnson, Joe Nichols, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and Lainey Wilson. And if you couldn’t attend the show on April 6—which is the anniversary of both Merle’s birth and death—great news. The Circle Network will premiere the Opry’s Merle Haggard Tribute Show on Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. CT.

Of course, Merle Haggard is usually one of the first names listed when discussing the greatest country artists of all time. With 38 No. 1 singles to his credit, Merle’s catalog rivals anyone who has ever strummed a guitar or crooned into a microphone. Merle’s list of iconic tunes includes “Mama Tried,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Okie From Muskogee,” and “Sing Me Back Home,” among many others.

And you’ll hear each of the aforementioned songs—and more—during the Opry’s Merle Haggard Tribute Show.

A Tribute to the Hag

Hosted by Clint Black, the Merle Haggard Tribute Show will premiere on Circle Network and is available to stream on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. CT.

Of course, it’s no surprise Cody Johnson was involved in the tribute. He often cites Merle as one of his biggest influences. Cody recently covered Merle’s “If We Make It Through December” on his 2021 holiday album.

“It’s my hero Merle Haggard’s birthday today, and his music has always been one of my biggest inspirations,” said Cody via Twitter in 2020.

In addition, soul/R&B artist Eli “Paperboy” Reed made his Opry debut on April 6 during the tribute show when he performed “Workin’ Man Blues” and “Somewhere Between.” Reed recently released a 12-song album of Merle covers, Down Every Road.

“Tonight we’re doing ‘Workin’ Man Blues,'” said Reed. “And this was a really fun one to kind of take and reconstruct in a new way. And cut the time in half and made it a kind of funky blues. Put the horns on it and organ.”

‘Merle Haggard Tribute’ Set List

  • Lainey Wilson – “Okie from Muskogee” and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”
  • Suzy Bogguss – “Silver Wings”
  • Clint Black – “Mama Tried”
  • Eli “Paperboy” Reed – “Somewhere Between” and “Workin’ Man Blues”
  • Joe Nichols – “What Have You Got Planned Tonight, Diana” and “Sing Me Back Home”
  • Marty Haggard – “Mama’s Hungry Eyes”
  • Cody Johnson – “Footlights” and “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down”