I've said it before and I'll say it again.

My favorite country singer of all time is Merle Haggard. I mean I can crank up any Merle song, and I mean loud, and I'm good to go. And, he's one of my top five songwriters ever as well. Very few people can put a delicious slice of life into three minutes like the Hag. He can make you laugh, make you cry, make you think. And isn't that what it's all about?

How many artist's have been influenced by Merle Haggard? Countless (and probably many that don't even realize it!). So with all that being said, who influenced him??

Well certainly one would be Jimmie Rogers. Merle has recorded entire albums of Jimmie Rogers song's and his latest project with his friend and fellow legend Willie Nelson is entitled Django and Jimmie. Which of course begs the question, who is Jimmie Rogers?

Born in September of 1897, Jimmie was (and is) well known as 'The Blue Yodeler', 'The Father of Country Music' and most famously 'The Singing Brakeman', thanks to his working on the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad.

He began recording back in the 1920's for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Yes youngsters, it was so long ago it was called a 'talking machine'! Songs that have lived on in music history were recorded, perhaps one of the best known titled 'Blue Yodel' (and better known as 'T For Texas'). Music, movies, and more. Jimmie Rogers became a sensation. Check out this great video from 'back in the day'.

Tragically, the life of Jimmie Rogers would be sensational but short. His last recording session came in May, 1933. Jimmie had contracted tuberculosis. He was so weakened that he actually had to rest on a cot between recording songs. And it was on May 26, 1933 that Jimmie Rogers died. He was just 35 years old.

But my oh my, did he leave legendary recordings and did he have an influence on generations of artists.

Including one named Merle Haggard.