Merle Haggard was sitting in the audience for three of Johnny Cash’s infamous shows at San Quentin. Merle dominated the charts in the 70’s and 80’s and if you ask people who might know about such things, Merle’s life was the basis for the 1983 Academy Award-winning film Tender Mercies starring Robert Duval. Somewhere in the mid-80’s/early-90’s Nashville started to change, and since Merle wouldn’t, he, like Johnny Cash, sort of got swept aside. However, much like Cash (albeit to a lesser degree), Merle has experienced a comeback of sorts here in the 2000s.

In sports, certain players obtain enough respect and pop culture status to be know by their first names. If I say “Walter”, “Lawrence” or “Michael”, odds are you’ll say Payton, Taylor and Jordan, regardless of how closely you follow sports. The musical equivalent of that is acceptance of what you are. Take Lucero for instance, they release album after great album to critical acclaim but ultimately the critics ask for more. “How many songs can he write about the one that got away?” “Will Lucero ever shake their sound up?”, and so on. On the other hand, Merle Haggard can release an album in 2010 that could have just as easily come out in 1970 or 1980 and it’s not only accepted, it’s taken on its own merits instead of being compared to whatever preteen boy loving, pure American blonde that Nashville happens to be exploiting at the moment.

Merle Haggard titled his 2010 release I Am What I Am, and by doing so made any review that went beyond those 5 words seem self-indulgent.

Merle Haggard – I’ve Seen It Go Away
Merle Haggard – The Road To My Heart

Merle Haggard’s Official Site, Merle Haggard on myspace, Buy I Am What I Am

5 thoughts on “MERLE HAGGARD – I AM WHAT I AM”

  1. Love Merle and finally got to see him a few years back at Cypress Gardens with my dad and his wife. It was a fucking great show, albeit a little awkward-feeling since they don’t serve alcohol at Cypress Gardens and it was the middle of the afternoon. Merle, in baseball cap, t-shirt, and jeans commented on that. Something along the lines of, “This is early for us. We’re a beer-joint band.”

    They played their asses off.

    I thumbed through a Rolling Stone interview he gave last year where he said something like, “Johnny Cash once said to me, ‘you’re the guy people think I am.'”

  2. Just yesterday I tried to break down the 4-CD set Down Every Road to a single CD introduction for a friend and went crazy – so much great stuff! Impossible! Besides the two records on ANTI- I’m not familiar with his 90s/00s work, though I’ve read a lot of good things about his last few albums. This one sure looks promising! Seems like I have some catching up to do!

  3. Ah yeah, Merle is back!! Thank you so much for posting the songs from the new disc. Merle Haggard walks on water musically as far as I’m concerned…haha! I can’t wait to hear the whole thing!

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