ARTIST: Merle Haggard
YEAR RELEASED: 1965
CHART ACTION: #9 Country
SINGLES: Sing a Sad Song (#19 Country), Sam Hill (#45 Country), (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers (#10 Country), I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can (#42 Country)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not by Hag
LINEUP: Merle Haggard with session players and strings. STRINGS! It was early.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Capitol buys Merle’s release from his old contract, along with his old masters, and using their marketing muscle, breaks Hag in the nationwide market.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: From the beginning, Merle Haggard had that something that separates the average and the exceptional. One listen to the title cut of this album, and you can tell he’s a cut above the normal 60’s country artists. There’s a vulnerability along with a determination that he carries in his voice.
The pause during the second line of the refrain of Sing a Sad Song is the sign of a great artist, and that was his first single.
The four singles are the big ones, and there’s filler, but a lot of the filler has something that normal hacky country filler songs don’t. Hag was on the way.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: One of the co-owners from Merle’s old record company became his manager.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: B+: There’s some good stuff, and a couple I’m exiling, but it’s a great 60’s country album.
Country albums in the sixties had a lot of filler, but there’s less on this one. I’m going to review every Haggard album (as opposed to some other country artists where I’ll just grab a collection or two because of the blatant filler) because of his quality and distinction.