“Merle Haggard is such a commanding, penetrating songwriter, and his voice seems so entwined with the melody and rhythm of his best compositions, that it’s sometimes easy to forget he’s also a great singer. Haggard didn’t write “Sing a Sad Song,” but his first hit reveals just how affecting a vocalist he was from the start. . . .” —David Cantwell, Heartaches by the Number
Merle Haggard, vocal/guitar; Roy Nichols, guitar; Denver Moles, guitar; Wynn Stewart, guitar; Ralph Mooney, steel guitar; poss. Bobby Austin, bass; poss. Helen “Peaches” Price, drums. poss. George French Jr., piano; other details unknown. Hollywood, California, 1963 Get it: Country & Western Hit Parade 1964 Image: Merle Haggard, KUZZ radio picnic, Bakersfield, c. mid-1960s. (Left to right: Jerry Ward, Bonnie Owens, Merle Haggard, Don Rich.) Sonny Langley/That Bakersfield Sound This week on Blues All Kinds . . . Big Mama Thornton with Fred McDowell, The Louvin Brothers, Johnny Duhon & the Yello-Jakets, Iris DeMent, Big Bill Broonzy, Lucille Bogan, and . . . Ray Charles.
There’s really no unifying theme to this new series, except that most of the records we’ll be playing were recorded in and around Chicago, by artists often associated with Chicago, in the 1930s. As simple or as complicated as that. . . .