Merle Haggard has been the recipient of hundreds of awards throughout his career, but the news that he is one of the five entertainers selected for the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors has clearly touched him.

"All of the awards mean a lot but this is special. This is from the American people," Merle tells The Boot. "This is different. All the other awards were from someone somehow involved in the business. So this is very special."

Merle received a call about a week ago telling him he would be an honoree but just learned on September 8 that the other honorees would be Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman and dancer-choreographer-director Bill T. Jones.

Asked what he plans to do with the award, Merle says he'll take it home to Bakersfield, Calif., and put it on display, even though he doesn't have anything like the trophy room Elvis Presley had built at his Graceland mansion.

"I live on 180 acres and we have four houses," he says. "All the houses are full of awards."

Merle and the other recipients will receive their medallions on December 4 during an official presentation by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a private dinner at the U.S. State Department. An all-star tribute performance for the 2010 honorees will be taped the following night, in front of an invitation-only audience, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast December 28 at 9:00 PM ET/PT on CBS.

Look for The Boot's full interview with the legendary Merle Haggard next week!