A classic interview with the country legend from the Uncut archive
“You or I will probably never know about that,” he says. “That’s a great question, though. You ever get an answer, let me have it.”
He smiles, his creased face suddenly illuminated by two racks of incongruous, impeccable white teeth.
“Take Job, in The Bible,” he ponders. “If the story of Job was taken away from him, what would he be worth? He had three thousand camels, he was a wealthy man. But the storyline, the devil tempting him and taking all his stuff away, and his re-rise to be even better than what he was before, that makes him more interesting. I like him. If I go to Heaven, I want to talk to Job. I want to know how he did that.”
There are parallels, granted: Job, like Haggard, had a second family relatively late in life. Haggard’s first marriage, to childhood sweetheart Leona Hobbs, produced four now-adult children (the eldest, Noel, is also a country singer). Today, Haggard and Theresa have a twenty-year-old daughter, Jenessa, and a teenage son, Ben – the latter has recently taken up guitar duties in Haggard’s long-serving band, The Strangers (“That’s ’cos he’s real good,” beams his father. “Anyone in my family has to be better than someone I can hire.”) There the similarities would appear to end: Job lived until he was 140, and still never made an album half as good as 1968’s Mama Tried.
“I think,” continues Haggard, “my trip to prison when I was younger was a definite help to my success in country music. Though I certainly didn’t do it on purpose.”