Sturgill Simpson thinks Merle Haggard was a legend. And he’s infuriated that the Academy of Country Music has named an award after him.
“In Bloom” singer Simpson savaged the Academy of Country Music on Monday, tearing into the academy for its creation of the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award.
As Simpson sees it, the academy and the country music industry in general are feeding off of Haggard’s legacy after failing to give the singer his due before his death earlier this year.
In his lengthy Facebook rant, Simpson recalled an anecdote about Haggard getting fed up and turning his back on Nashville.
“According to my sources, it was right after a record executive told him that ‘Kern River’ was a bad song. In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn’t call, play, or touch him,” Simpson recounted. “He felt forgotten and tossed aside. I always got a sense that he wanted one last hit..one last proper victory lap of his own, and we all know deserved it. Yet it never came. And now he’s gone.”
Simpson added that, if the country music industry is really interested in honoring Haggard, it would promote music closer to Haggard’s spirit, instead of the “formulaic cannon fodder bulls—” it currently trades in.
“I find it utterly disgusting the way everybody on Music Row is coming up with any reason they can to hitch their wagon to his name while knowing full and damn well what he thought about them,” Simpson wrote. “If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bulls— they’ve been pumping down rural America’s throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show bulls— and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music.”
The singer went on to clarify that he harbors no resentment toward Miranda Lambert, who will be the Haggard award’s first recipient during the ACM Honors this week.
“I know that Merle liked and respected [Lambert] so it’s good to see there is at least some blue sky in all of this,” Simpson wrote. “I don’t know Miranda nor have I ever met her but something tells me that in her heart, she knows I’m dead on. I am also aware that the ACM is a West Coast organization originally created to recognize West Coast artists like Merle and they have handed Merle many trophies over the years,..even in the last 15 or so mind you. It’s also worth noting that the last one was handed to him by none other than Miranda Lambert herself.”