On the 3rd of December, country music veteran Merle Haggard checked himself into a hospital with pneumonia. This forced him to postpone some of his upcoming tour dates. Apparently, the singer was so sick he almost died.
"I guess I was nearly dead," Haggard says during a call to the Willie's Roadhouse SiriusXM station. Haggard goes on to explain that he was diagnosed with double pneumonia - that is, a bout of pneumonia that affects both lungs.
"They couldn't tell whether I had cancer returned or whether I just had pneumonia," he continues. "They had to wait until they got the pneumonia under control before we could tell, so it's been kind of a tough couple of weeks."
Haggard goes on to thank the doctors and nurses who helped him get better, as well as his band, "for puttin' up with me," and the fans who sent their prayers "because there have been prayers all over the world, and I want to thank the fans for doing that, because it certainly got the job done." The country legend also thanks God, "for allowing me to have another Christmas."
Throughout Haggard's lengthy career, he has had made 4 Gospel records, with his latest being "Two Old Friends" which he recorded with Albert Brumley, Jr, son of gospel legend and songwriter Albert E. Brumley. It was released on May 1, 2001, the album was backed by Haggard's crack touring band, the pair work their way through compositions by Brumley Sr., Brumley Jr., and the Hag himself with the immediacy and warmth of a back-porch jam session.
- "There's a Road Down the Road" - 2:13
- "Victory in Jesus" (Eugene Bartlett) - 2:33
- "The Old Drover's Prayer" (Albert E. Brumley) - 2:17
- "If You See a Change in Me" (Merle Haggard) - 3:15
- "I Dreamed I Met Mother and Daddy" (Brumley) - 3:12
- "I'll Fly Away" (Brumley) - 3:04
- "Old Rugged Shoes" (Haggard) - 3:21
- "Marching Over Jordan" (Brumley) - 2:49
- "Someday He'll Whisper My Name" (Haggard) - 4:03
- "Everybody Knows" (Brumley) - 2:37
- "I'll Meet You in the Morning" (Brumley) - 3:19
Released on the same day was Haggard's other Gospel album "Cabin in the Hills." The album includes a mix of traditional songs arranged by Haggard as well as new Haggard originals. It also features the Iris Dement song "Shores of Jordan". Haggard produced the collection himself and is joined by Strangers steel guitarist Norman Hamlet and singers Porter Wagoner and Bonnie Owens.
- "Life's Railway to Heaven" (W.S. Stevenson, Charlie Tillman) - 3:21
- "A Cabin in the Hills" (Merle Haggard) - 3:17
- "What Will It Take" (Haggard) - 2:48
- "Father Along" (Traditional) - 4:12
- "Precious Lord Take My Hand" - 3:07
- "Apart for a While" (Haggard) - 3:10
- "Love Lifted Me" (Traditional) - 3:29
- "Shores of Jordan" (Iris Dement) - 3:38
- "Lord Don't Give Up on Me" (Haggard) - 2:58
- "This World Is Not My Home" (Traditional; arranged by Albert Brumley, Jr.) - 2:18