Tuesday night in Nashville, Miranda Lambert will receive a new award from the Academy of Country Music: the Merle Haggard Spirit Award.
Don’t expect anything but a slow clap from country singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson, who in a lengthy Facebook post on Monday blasted the ACM for naming the award after a man it “mistreated” for years and ran out of Nashville.
Haggard died on April 6 on his 79th birthday.
Simpson, described by one critic as part of a “movement of rising anti-bro country heroes in Nashville,” pulled no punches in bashing the music group, and thousands of his followers seem to agree.
His post has been shared more than 13,000 times and has generated more than 2,000 comments.
“I’m writing this because I want to go on record and say 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.
Simpson pointed out that Haggard, like country stalwarts Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings before him, left Nashville in the dust years ago.
“According to my sources, it was right after a record executive told him that ‘Kern River’ was a bad song,” Simpson wrote.
“In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn’t call, play, or touch him. 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 got a Twitter shout-out from fellow country singer Jason Isbell.
Simpson did not know when he posted his rant that Lambert was receiving the first award. He said in an update to his first post that he has no beef with her.
“Before people start chasing clickbait by putting words in my mouth I feel the need to clarify that I was not aware of this at the time of my original post and my words were in no way directed at her,” he wrote.
“I know that Merle liked and respected her so it’s good to see there is at least some blue sky in all of this. 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 ... It’s also worth noting that the last one was handed to him by none other than Miranda Lambert herself.”
According to the ACM, the new award recognizes “uncompromising artists in the spirit of Merle Haggard, while acknowledging a man who has figured prominently in ACM history.”
“If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder (b.s.) 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 (b.s.) and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music,” Simpson blasted.
The One Country website said that even if people won’t know who Simpson is, “you now know Simpson is ready to take on the world, one Nashville country music industry insider at a time.”
The ACM Honors will air Sept. 9 on CBS, the first time the ceremony will be on TV. Glen Campbell, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban will also be honored.