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Merle Haggard Playing Fiddle to ‘San Antonio Rose’ is a True Texas Toe-Tapper

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You knew he could sing, and clearly, he could play guitar, but did you also know that Merle Haggard was an accomplished fiddle player? Filmed live in Texas, performing the instrumental version of the “San Antonio Rose,” Haggard fluidly masters the fiddle, leading his band in the Texas gold standard of country music which was once played by Bob Wills.

In fact, the song was originally written by Texas-born Wills and was known as the signature tune for him and his Texas Playboys. First recorded in 1938, the band renamed it “New San Antonio Rose” when lyrics were added, starting the refrain with:

“Deep within my heart lies a melody, a song of old San Antone.”

Recorded at “Austin City Limits” in 1978, Haggard would have been in his 40s, and many say in the prime of his storied career when this video was recorded. He went on to release numerous albums, singles, and subsequent hits following this time frame, garnering a country music fan base that continues to cherish his contributions to the genre. Merle Ronald Haggard lived to the age of 79, was an accomplished singer, songwriter, guitarist, and (as you can see) fiddler. He and his band, the Strangers, helped create the Bakersfield sound along with the likes of Buck Owens, characterized by the unique traditional steel guitar mixed with newer vocal harmonies, and the twang of Fender Telecaster. He had a slew of hits between the ‘60s and the ‘80s and continued to release successful recordings as far up as his final collaboration with Willie Nelson on “Django & Jimmie” in 2015.