Merle Haggard Band

Discussion in 'Music Forum' started by cshadows2887, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. cshadows2887 Apr 10, 2016
    (Last edited: Apr 10, 2016)
    cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Merle Ronald Haggard (April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, fiddler, and instrumentalist. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville sound recordings of the same era.

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    Merle Haggard
    One of country's greatest songwriters, Merle walked a line between toughness and heart that few could imitate. His simplicity in the face of polished Nashville product created the famed Bakersville sound. When he moved into the 70s, he aligned himself with the equally far-reaching Outlaw movement. He died in 2016 as one of the most universally adored talents in country's rich history.

    Recommended Listen:
    Branded Man (with The Strangers)

    Crash Course:
    1. Branded Man
    2. Hag
    3. If I Could Only Fly

    Compilation Replacement:
    Hag: The Best of Merle Haggard

    Signature Songs:
    1. "Mama Tried"
    2. "The Bottle Let Me Down"
    3. "Are the Good Times Really Over"
    4. "Okie from Muskogee"
    5. "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink"

    Personal Note:
    I'm not intensely familiar with Merle's catalog, but I wanted to select him in tribute since he just passed. I can vouch personally for the three records in that crash course, but they're all I've really heard, so there might be even better ones out there to explore for him. Same goes for the signature songs. Those ones are all well-known hits for Hag, but I might be missing some gems I just haven't heard yet. So let's all explore and maybe I'll update this OP at the end of the week for future listeners.
     
  2. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    I'm very excited to dig into more from Merle this week. I've loved my small sampling.
     
  3. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    I've been very bad with following through on the classic artist a week stuff lately, both because of the launching of the new site and because I've been putting a lot of time into finishing up my album. But I'm not going to miss this one! I haven't heard much from Merle and now seems like the right time.
     
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  5. ChaseTx

    Hail seitan Prestigious

    Had some trouble finding Branded Man on Spotify. It's listed under Merle Haggard and the Strangers.

    There's a similarly named one from 2016 under his main page but that's obviously the wrong one.
     
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  6. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Shit, I totally forgot that detail. I'll add a note or something. On the plus side: worth the little extra hunting
     
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  7. ChaseTx

    Hail seitan Prestigious

    Already listened to it this morning, good stuff. "Somewhere Between" is a great track.
     
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  8. George Apr 11, 2016
    (Last edited: Apr 11, 2016)
    George

    Trusted Prestigious

    I was aware of Merle and was saddened to hear of his passing, but prior to this I honestly couldn't have named you a single one of his songs. Like a lot of other country musicians from this time period, he's part of a massive blind-spot for me.

    I listened to Branded Man today, and I like it! I don't fully understand the impact of the Bakersfield Sound vs the Nashville Sound, as I haven't heard enough of either. But I like what I heard! I enjoyed some of the little flourishes on this record, like the little Flamenco-esque guitar work on "You Don't Have Far To Go", or the background female vocals on "Gone Crazy".

    It's classic sad bastard country music, and I appreciate how frank and forthright he is in some of the songs, like "Don't Get Married". The production is clean and sharp, and the songs are engaging, with a great sense of songwriting and melody.

    I have to admit, I'm a little bit confused by the Bakersfield Sound description in the OP, particularly this part, "new vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal". I don't really hear anything like this on this record. The wording and lyrics don't seem minimal, and in fact, I'd say the exact opposite, the lyricism was one the most interesting and prominent aspects of this record.

    I definitely enjoyed this, and I'm looking forward to getting through the crash course this week!
     
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  9. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    People have trouble pinning down the meaning of the Bakersfield sound but basically it just meant (from what I understand) a focus on simplicity. Nashville at the time was very pop and sweetening everything with strings and choirs and shit. Bakersfield went for a more simple approach. Also the Bakersfield sound went in big for steel guitar
     
  10. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Diving into Branded Man right now. Based on how much I'm loving the title track, I legitimately can't believe I've never heard this record before.
     
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  11. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    First try with Mama Tried. The title track is rightly one of the defining songs of country music. I have trouble with the "talking verses" in older country music, but the one in "Green Green Grass of Home", he keeps nicely restrained so it actually works. "I'll Always Know" is killer. Just a little bit of 60's pop sounds sneaking in, and he really sings the hell out of it.

    The majority of this is just exceptionally solid. None of the Merle albums I've heard usually have too many songs that absolutely blow me away, but almost everything is sympathetically performed, well-sung, and well-written. Simplicity is his charm.

    There's also a lot of excellent guitar playing on this, both electric lead and steel.
     
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  12. ChiliTacos

    Trusted Supporter

    I listened to Branded Man this afternoon. I thought it was good, I can definitely hear how he influenced a lot of country music, but it wasn't really my thing. Definitely glad I listened.

    The cool thing about this classic artist series, is that it has made me realize something. Even with classic artists that I am a so called fan of, I have rarely ever listened to an album of theirs in full. If anything, I'm super super happy that I can say I have listened to all these full albums from classic artists now.
     
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  13. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    All prep-work and nagging people to listen now officially worth it.

    Also, if you keep exploring him at all this week, maybe veer toward his 70s stuff like Hag or Back to the Barrooms. Definitely different than his 60s sound.
     
  14. ChiliTacos

    Trusted Supporter

    Will do!
     
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  15. ChaseTx

    Hail seitan Prestigious

    I'm through Branded Man and Hag, listening to If I Could Only Fly now. Weird to jump 30 years forward, haha.
     
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  16. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    I'm a sucker for when grizzled veterans really pull it together to release a great album (Time Out of Mind, The Wind, Baltimore, Lady in Satin, Teatro, etc.) It may not be his most heralded, but it gives you a look at the span of his long career.
     
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  17. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    As I mentioned in the Nina thread, I'm a sucker for a late-career album, so If I could Only Fly is definitely on the docket for listening tomorrow!
     
  18. ChaseTx

    Hail seitan Prestigious

    Here are a few good ones that came up on shuffle the other day.





     
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  19. Laura

    Making Groovy Night! Prestigious

    So glad there's a Merle thread. I'm grateful that I was able to see him live a few years ago. I haven't listened to Branded Man in forever, so I'll definitely do that tonight.

    Since his death, I've been listening to a lot of his late 70's and 80's material. I think Serving 190 Proof is my favorite Merle album, though Back to the Barrooms is close. Both are pretty heartbreaking.
     
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  20. VanMastaIteHab

    Trusted Prestigious

    Just want to pop in and say I really appreciate these threads. Merle isn't really my thing, and neither was Nina, so I haven't had much to contribute. But I love learning a little bit about these classic artists nonetheless. Feel like it's upping my jeopardy game, if you know what I mean haha. I'm a sucker for trivia.
     
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  21. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Hah. It's okay to not really be into something. All that matters is that you give it an honest listen. And you get the benefit of knowing a little more of the vast array of music out there to hear.
     
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  22. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Listened to If Only I Could Fly today, and it's nice. As I mentioned before, I'm a sucker for late-career albums, especially ones as introspective as this. The reflections on aging, and losing the vigour of youth remind me of Cash's American albums, or some of late-career Dylan's stuff. His voice is still strong ish, despite not being particularly stretched, but he clearly knows how to deliver a song. Lyrically, it's still sad bastard stuff, but I think the more personal, reflective stuff on here is more affecting than the "Julie, please don't get married" stuff on Branded Man.

    Instrumentally it's solid, really nice organic and earthy sound to it, that suits the theme and feel of the record. There was nothing here that gobsmacked me, but it's always nice to hear when somebody can write great records 40 years into their career.
     
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  23. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Listening to Big City. It's just as solid as Back to the Barrooms. They're a little slicker in that early 80's way, but never silly or trying too hard. Very identifiably Merle. "You Don't Have Very Far to Go" is definitely the biggest standout. Total heartbreaker. "I Always Get Lucky With You" is pretty gorgeous, too.
     
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  24. ChaseTx

    Hail seitan Prestigious

    Listening to Barrooms, it's easy to see how much he helped shape the sound of country music in the 80s.
     
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  25. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Dude really leaned into the whole "country is really good at drinking songs, huh?" archetype.
     
  26. George Apr 14, 2016
    (Last edited: Apr 14, 2016)
    George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Listened to I'm A Lonesome Fugitive today, and even by sad bastard country music's standards, this is unbelievably miserable. It's quite astonishing really that something so fatalistic and full of self-loathing was so popular. I mean, have a gander at the chorus to "Life In Prison";

    It honestly shocked me a bit with its frankness and bluntness to be honest. Not often that happens anymore, so this was quite an interesting surprise, in a way. Musically, it seems in line with what I would expect from him. Some nice, but not showy instrumentation. I think I probably preferred it to Branded Man, simply because I thought some of the lyrics on here were extraordinary. I don't think there's much between them though.

    So far, so good with him! I do think (and I'm basing this on fuck all, to be fair) there's maybe not a hell of a lot of variety to his music, so once you've heard a handful of albums, you've kind of heard everything he has to offer. Again, I'd never listened to him until a few days ago, so this could be wayyyy off base, but that's the general vibe I'm getting so far. Still, I'm enjoying what I'm hearing!
     
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