Former CBS Evening News Reporter Dan Rather visited Franklin to interview and introduce legendary country music singer Merle Haggard.
As part of a piece Rather is working on for his new show, "Dan Rather Reports," Rather interviewed Haggard before his performance Friday night at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. “I have been to Franklin a time or two,” Rather told Macon County News reporter Brittney Parker. “It is pretty country.”
Rather, who was an anchor for the CBS Evening News for 24 years, as well as the face of CBS's 60 Minutes and worked for the network a total of 43 years, posted on his website, danrather.com, Friday before heading to Franklin. “I'm off to North Carolina, working a story and an interview (to Charlotte, Asheville, then Franklin...to talk with the great Merle Haggard, among others),” wrote Rather. “I have long listened to much Haggard, one of the all time country music greats. Among my favorites of his: "Mama Tried," "The Fighting Side of Me," "Okie From Muskogee" – and, of course, "Sing Me Back Home," generally considered one of the greatest country music classics of all time. But I like almost everything Merle has recorded.??"I think country music is still (always has been) an underestimated reflection of American culture and society – and of our nation's people. Elites tend to dismiss it – if not outright ridicule it. But I've said it before and say it again now: If you want to know what's really on a lot of American minds (and in many ways, in their hearts) listen to country music.??"I listen to and enjoy pop, hip-hop, rock 'n roll, opera, symphony and classical music – and I'm not putting any of them down. Just speaking up for the music that's part of my roots and that I know is connected to the pulse and heartbeat of America. Having said my piece, allow me to put on recordings of Willie's "Red Headed Stranger" and Merle's "Sing Me Back Home." Maybe Waylon's "Good Hearted Woman" after that.”
Rather surprised the sold out crowd Friday night, when he took center stage to introduce Haggard to the audience, “A legend, and iconic poet of the common man, champion of the American underdog, and when it comes to standing up for country music and being true to his roots, the last outlaw, ladies and gentleman, the one, the only, the great, Merle Haggard.”
Rather has undoubtedly had a remarkable career to date, and meeting him stands as any journalist's dream. From his reports on the JFK assassination to Watergate as he served as CBS's White House correspondent during Nixon's presidency; to his infamous coverage of the 1986 NASA Challenger disaster to arguably his most notable interview, an interview with Saddam Hussein before the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq, Rather's career has left no stone unturned and no story untold.
Rather took to his blog to write about his experience in Franklin, and even goes to say that the western portion of North Carolina stands to be his favorite. Read his blog post here: http://www.danrather.com/news/the-joys-of-north-carolina.html