If we’re honest, we’ve probably all caught ourselves bemoaning the future of this or that, whether our critiques are directed at a genre of music, politics or even an entire generation. While many veteran artists often become the biggest naysayers for the future of their beloved genres as soon as they’re taken over by a ton of “kids,” Merle Haggard doesn’t buy all that. In a recent interview with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Haggard said he thinks things in the country music realm are on the up.

“Lately I’ve noticed an improvement in the overall quality of songs and what not,” he told the newspaper. “There have been some pretty neat things.” So who is the legend digging on? He lists among his top picks Hunter Hayes, Jamey Johnson and Lukas Nelson (Willie Nelson‘s son). Though he’s positive about the industry on the whole, the 75-year-old admits he’d like to see someone try to fill the shoes of the Man in Black.

“I’d love to hear a Johnny Cash come to town, somebody who absolutely defies what’s going on and takes you in another direction,” he says. “I think that’s what we need to see. I’m hoping for it. Nobody’s been playing different. That hasn’t happened. That’s what I look for.”

Haggard fans can now hear all kinds of personal thoughts from the icon, since he’s one of the most recent stars to grace the Twittersphere. Of course, anytime a 75-year-old has to adapt to a totally new technology, there can be some growing pains. Take for example Haggard’s first Tweet: “Greetings all participators, especially all you sweet potaters. There’s always something new . . . Any songwriters find a rhyme for that?”

That’s OK though. He has confidence in the future of country music, and we have confidence in the future of his tweeting endeavors.

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