I realize now that this story was a major influence on the merle Zane character in the Niceville series.
Cooper was a minor actor who initially wanted to do the life story of merle Haggard.
You hear it in Hank Williams Sr., merle Haggard, early Dolly Parton, and you hear it in George Jones.
"blackbird," late 15c., from Old French merle "blackbird" (12c.), from Latin merulus "blackbird," from PIE *ams- "black, blackbird" (cf. Old English osle "blackbird;" see ouzel). The word owes its survival in modern times to its use by Scottish poets. The Latin word shows effects of rhotacism. It also is the source of Provençal and Spanish merla, Portuguese merlo, and Italian merla. Borrowed from French are Middle Dutch and German merle, Dutch meerle.