The title hits of these two albums are two of the greatest prison songs ever. Their success ("The Fugitive," as the song was originally titled, was his first No. 1, though he didn't write it) also helped convince Merle he could sing about darker aspects of his life other than boozing and romantic turmoil. And it was the first single on which acoustic guitar underpinnings, which quickly became a trademark, were crucial. Finally, "My Rough and Rowdy Ways" marks his first Jimmie Rodgers revival (he'd soon cut a double-album tribute). Haggard wrote or co-wrote nine of the 12 songs, including the haunting "House of Memories." Branded Man, meanwhile, features three Tommy Collins originals (including "Go Home," Merle's first foray into interracial love songs) and Hag's own "I Threw Away the Rose," which quickly became a calling card. Crackling guitarist Roy Nichols, who was absent on the former album (replaced by James Burton and Glen Campbell, no less), returns for the latter.
By John Morthland on 05.17.11 in Icons
There's never been a country music career anything like that of Merle Haggard. Launched soon after he was released from San Quentin, it presented him first as a reckless, paranoid, yet rather proud honky-tonk man, the el...
By Jewly Hight on 02.23.15 in Features
"I take the country songs, because they're the only ones left now with any real meaning, and I redo them more R
By Andy Beta on 05.15.12 in Reviews
With his 79th birthday behind him, Willie Nelson is pondering his mortality on Heroes. A duet with fellow septuagenarian Merle Haggard on ruminative opener "A Horse Called Music" examines memory and loss. And then follow...
By Wondering Sound Staff on 05.07.12 in Lists
From doting to derelict, supportive to destructive, pop music contains mothers of every stripe. This year for Mother's Day, we decided to showcase 20 of pop music's more prominent moms. Any of them look familiar?