First Keith Urban lifted the opening riff from "Mama Tried" for his new single, then Chris Young filmed himself backstage at the Opry singing "Silver Wings" with his band. Maybe it's some sort of Chris Stapleton effect, with stars scrambling to impress his growing old-school audience. Or, more likely, it's a matter of two stars paying tribute to an old favorite. Either way, Merle Haggard sure is getting a lot of attention all at once in the mainstream.
While Urban makes reference to classic country music's role in his trek to American pop stardom, Young simply plays an impromptu jam. The latter finds Young and his supporting cast sounding like genuine throwbacks.
With that voice, Young could easily choose to further dangle one foot in traditionalist territory without alienating his mainstream audience. It wouldn't be a stretch for an artist endorsed by Vince Gill and other gatekeepers of the old-time way.
Two sudden examples don't constitute a trend by any means. Still, it's encouraging to know that established names still look to the Hag for creative inspiration.