After a health scare last week, with an 11-day stay in the hospital and postponing a few tour dates, country music veteran Merle Haggard has recovered. Haggard expressed his thanks to his fans for praying for him while he was hospitalized. And he's going back on the road.
"It could've gone in another direction had I messed around a little more," he tells Rolling Stone. "I'm just hoping I'm fully able."
"I was coughing all the time. I thought, 'These damned old buildings have got something in them.' I just didn't recognize it as what it was," he says. "I always felt better after I'd work because of the exercise that it gave to my lungs. When I play, I feel better when I come off."
Haggard is not only thankful to his fans. But he sends his appreciation to the doctors who took cared of him. "They want to get you up and run you on a footrace first day you're there. They won't let you rest. That's because that's what you have to do: get over it. They gave me some steroids one time and I got up and I was giving judo lessons." He says the hospital staff "treated me like family. They allowed me to put my bus in their complex." Haggard's son Ben was in charge of keeping fans updated on social media. "He's kept everybody abreast of what was going on. Of course, there has been a lot of interest, a lot of prayers for me to be thinking about."
Besides continuing with his live shows, Haggard has another new duets album planned with Willie Nelson. We're working on a new album with me and Willie again," he says, referring to a follow up to last year's Django and Jimmie. "We're having such good luck. Our names together seem to be magic. Our first show together for the tour went on sale in Springfield and sold out in 10 minutes. The records are selling and it's a hard time to sell records! So we can't deny the success of it all."