Music: Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard (born 1937) is a Country Music artist. One of the only country musicians from California, he pioneered the "Bakersfield sound" and was influential in the "outlaw" sound as well.

Haggard was quite the badass early on in his life, including stints in PSI and San Quentin Prison. After working some time with Lefty Frizzell, he actively pursued a music career in the mid-fifties after cleaning up his life. A modest Top 20 hit, "Sing a Sad Song" on the Tally label, brought him to the mainstream for the first time, but it wasn't until he joined Capitol Records' roster in 1965 that the hits started coming. Working with his band, the Strangers, he would chart thirty-eight Number One hits and several more Top Tens throughout his career. Awards aplenty came from the Country Music Association and Grammys, as well as a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2006 and induction into the country music Hall of Fame. He even got pardoned by then-California governor Ronald Reagan in 1972. Starting in the late 1970s, he switched to MCA Records, and then to Epic Records by 1981 and Curb in the early 1990s. Although he never hit the Top 10 again after 1989, he never gave up on recording.

Haggard's sons, Noel and Marty, also had minor success as recording artists.

Tropes present in his work:

  • Dead Sparks: "Just Between The Two Of Us"
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing:invoked "Okie From Muskogee" lists a bunch of things that good clean-cut folks don't do.
    We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee... we don't take our trips on LSD... we don't make a party out of lovin'...
  • Drowning My Sorrows: "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" couldn't possibly fit the bill any better. It's strangely upbeat, however. "Misery and Gin" plays it perfectly straight.
  • Maybe Ever After: "If We're Not Back In Love By Monday"
  • Never Live It Down:invoked In-work example with "Branded Man." A case can also be made for "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive."
  • Nice Hat: Merle actually didn't wear a cowboy hat much until later in his career.
  • One Woman Song: "Mary's Mine", "Irma Jackson", "Carolyn"
  • Protest Song: "Okie from Muskogee," wherein he laments the hippie generation.
    • "The Fightin' Side Of Me" pretty much inverts this trope, warning against protesting America's involvement in wars.
  • Shout-Out: The song "No Show Jones" from his all duet album with George Jones is basically a series of these to (in order of appearance) Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Haggard himself, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, and Tammy Wynette.
  • Something Blues: "Workin' Man Blues"
  • Somewhere Song: "California Cottonfields"
  • Son of a Whore: "Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp"
  • The Stoner: "It's All Going to Pot"
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Most of "My Own Kind of Hat" is this.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Like many of the artists of his generation, the Hag was known for his simple, raw songwriting and production.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: "Mama Tried." Haggard's father really did die young and Haggard really was a rebellious child who grew up to commit several crimes. But the resemblance ends there; the narrator "turned 21 in prison doing life without parole," which obviously didn't happen to Haggard.
  • Wanderlust Song: "The Fugitive" (or "I'm A Lonesome Fugitive"), "Ramblin' Fever", "White Line Fever"
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "We'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble Up and eatin' that rainbow stew" from "Rainbow Stew."
  • Working with the Ex: Merle was married to singer Bonnie Owens from 1965 to 1978; but even after the divorce, she continued to tour occasionally as part of his band.