Wednesday, April 06, 2016

R.I.P. Merle Haggard

Whenever the my Dad and I talked about Country music, he always reminded me that I saw Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn and others in 1969/1970 while we lived in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.  Only problem was, I didn't remember seeing any of them.  I have vague memories of going to concerts, but I was 5 & 6 years old during that time.
Move ahead to the late 90's and I finally did catch Merle Haggard in concert.  It was a County Fair show, free with admission.  Not the main stage, but a side one.  We had good seats, and Hag was in great voice.  Played lots of guitar too, which surprised me. Sang just about all the classics.  I remember buying a T-shirt.  

Merle Haggard wasn't just a Country music giant.  We know he'd be on everybody's Mt. Rushmore of giants of that genre, but he was also a giant of music, period.  As a singer Haggard was influenced by Lefty Frizzell (and even Frank Sinatra), but he found his own style pretty quick.  And only Hank Williams can rival Haggard as a Country songwriter.  His catalog is vast.  Over 60 studio albums and most are top quality.  It's no surprise that he consistently ranks as the #1 Country artist of all time in various polls.  The songs he wrote covered lots of ground.  And there was no way you could narrow him down to just one thing.  He really wrote and released whatever he wanted.  

Instead of coming up with a list of the usual Haggard songs, I've put together a bunch of songs that you probably don't hear very often on your local Country Classic radio station.  Below are overlooked/underrated songs that deserve some love no matter where you get your next Hag fix.

Better Love Next Time
Big Time Annie's Square
C.C. Waterback (w/George Jones)
California Cottenfields
Friend In California
From Graceland To The Promised Land
Grandma Harp
Holding Things Together
I Had A Beautiful Time
If I Could Only Fly
In The Good Old Days
Irma Jackson
It's All Going To Pot (w/Willie Nelson)
It's All In The Movies
It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)
Kern River
Let's Chase Each Other Around The Room
Make-Up and Faded Blue Jeans
Mama's Hungry Eyes
Misery and Gin
My Own Kind Of Hat
Natural High
Place To Fall Apart
Seashores of Old Mexico  (w/Willie Nelson)
That's The News
Tulare Dust
Way I Am
What Am I Gonna Do
What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana?
Working Man Can't Get Nowhere Today
You Take Me For Granted

Haggard's albums number over 60, but most are worth checking out.  Except for a lapse in the late 80's and 90's, everything else is worth your time.
Some of my personal picks:
Pride In What I Am  (1968)
Same Train, A Different Time (1969)
Tribute To The Best Damn Fiddle Player In The World  (1970)
Someday We'll Look Back  (1971)
Hag  (1971)
Serving 190 Proof  (1979)
Big City  (1981)
Pancho & Lefty w/Willie Nelson  (1982)
Friend In California   (1986)
If I Could Only Fly  (2000)
Last of the Breed (w/Willie Nelson, Ray Price 2007)
I Am What I Am  (2010)
Working In Tennessee  (2011)
Django and Jimmie  w/Willie Nelson  (2015)


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