Among many of the industry’s icons, Merle Haggard is no stranger to heartbreak.
Having lived in a cell for some time out in San Quentin Prison, Haggard would hear the screams of other men being led down the hallways to their deaths, which would inspire him to write some of the saddest songs country music has ever known.
One such song is “Silver Wings”, which will tear you up almost every time you hear him sing:
Silver wings shining in the sunlight / Roaring engines headed somewhere in flight / They’re taking you away, leaving me lonely / Silver wings slowly fading out of sight
For the early part of Haggard’s career, in which “Silver Wings” was written the outlaw country star would model his life after his hero, one Lefty Frizzell. He would of course go on to turn his life around after watching a friend and inmate get sentenced to death, for escaping his capture like Merle had many times before, and killing a police officer.
Watch as Merle Haggard sings “Silver Wings” live in this vintage recording: