Merle Haggard, of course
Written by Randy Black on April 12, 2016
Merle Haggard, 1937-2016
Viking Twang Episode 84 April12, 2016
Good morning, friends, and welcome to Viking Twang Episode 83. My name is Randy Black. Once again, we’ve lost a great musician this year. Merle Haggard died last week on his 79th birthday. He was obviously one of the true greats of country music, and I feel privileged to have seen him play when I worked at the Crystal Ballroom.
We’re going to play some of Merle’s earliest recordings in the first set. The second will feature a live performance in 1969 in, of course, Muskokee, Oklahoma, and we’ll finish the show with songs from a single day of recording on Aug. 2, 1966, that brought some of his greatest songs. We’ll start with the second song he ever recorded:
1 – Stealin’ Corn; Merle Haggard and the Strangers. From 1970.
2 – Skid Row; From Hollywood in 1962 with producer Fuzzy Owen; he recorded
Singin’ My Heart Out and Skid Row, which was supposed to be the B side. I couldn’t even find the first song!
3 – Sing a Sad Song; From October, 1963 in Hollywood, with a full band including
Ralph Mooney on steel guitar.
4 – You Don’t Even Try; That’s also from the October 1963 session.
5 – You Don’t Have Very Far To Go; This one is from January, 1964, still in
Hollywood, with Fuzzy Owen producing. They also recorded an unreleased version of Life in Prison.
6 – Sam Hill; We’re back in Hollywood in June, 1964.
7 – I’m A Lonesome Fugitive; His first number one hit, recorded Aug. 1, 1966.
One of Merle’s most famous songs is “I’m An Okie from Muskogee,” which he claims he wrote as half a joke, half a comment on the generational divide of the time. It made Muskogee famous, and he came back to play a show in 1969.
8 – Mama Tried.
9 – No Hard Times.
10 – Silver Wings.
11 – Swingin’ Doors
12 – Sing Me Back Home.
Many of Merle’s most famous songs came from a series of sessions in the summer of 1966. He had a crackerjack band of James Burton, Glen Campbell, and Lewis Talley on guitars, Howard Lowe on bass, James Gordon on drums, Glen Hardin on piano, and his wife, Bonnie Owens. Ken Nelson and Fuzzy Owen produced the sessions. They recorded The Bottle Let Me Down on June 28, Lonesome Fugitive in the second of two sessions on Aug. 1, and then these songs over two sessions on Aug. 2.
13 – Life in Prison.
14 – House of Memories.
15 – All of Me Belongs to You.
16 – My Rough and Rowdy Ways.
17 — Mary’s Mine.
18 – If You Want to Be My Woman.
19 – Fiddle Breakdown, from a live performance at Anaheim Stadium in 1980.