Following Merle Haggard's death on April 6, Vince Gill tweeted out a sweet remembrance of the country icon's influence on his own career: "He was my greatest inspiration. He was IT for me." It didn't take long for Gill to turn that sentiment into a musical tribute to "the Hag," which he debuted during a recent stop at the Grand Ole Opry.

Backed by Paul Franklin on steel guitar, Gill performed "A World Without Haggard" at the Opry on April 15. The five-and-a-half-minute song begins with Gill recalling the moment he heard of Haggard's passing and muses on Haggard's legacy and the effect that his life, music and career had on Gill; throughout the tune, Gill repeats the phrase "He was my greatest inspiration / The reason why I sing the blues."

"I'm lost in a world without Haggard / Oh, who'll tell the truth to you and me?" the chorus goes. "Oh, I'm lost in a world without Haggard / It's a world I thought I would never see."

Throughout the song, Franklin's playing adds an extra layer of sadness to the already-somber song, including a beautiful solo. Press play on the video above to watch.

"I think Merle is head, hands and feet above just about anybody because of his songs," Gill says. "They didn't call him the 'Poet of the Common Man' for nothing ... He wrote the truth ... And then, on top of that, I think he's maybe the best singer ever, too."

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