Album no. 99/1001
Merle Haggard (that’s his real name! Haggard!) was an inmate when Johnny Cash did one of his prison gigs. He must have realised there was a market for rugged ex-cons in country music.
This is Merle’s third album, and he (along with old mate Buck Owens) is pushing the Bakersfield sound, which is a genre of country music. The Bakersfield sound developed as a reaction to the slickly produced stuff that was happening in Nashville. The idea that this is the ‘rough around the edges’ stuff is insane to me. Country music is really weird.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: Definitely not.
CL: Merle. Great name. And no. No I haven’t.
NK: It’s hard to tell most of them apart. ‘If You Want to Be My Woman’ at least has a piano riff that sets it apart from the rest. Apart from that I honestly struggled to remember individual songs. It’s very country, I’ll say that for it.
CL: Much like all country music, they all sound the same. This is not a generalisation, this a cold, hard fact. At the fourth song, I’d had enough.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: I struggled to pay attention to this. I kept tuning out and realising four songs had gone past without me really hearing them. According to iTunes I have listened to this THREE times, but every time I’d say I haven’t heard it before. It just doesn’t stay with me. I tried, I really did. Three times.
CL: THREE TIMES?! Yeah…I struggled to get through one listen.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: I don’t know. For The Sake of The Song by Townes Van Zandt came out in 1968, and that’s WAY better than this. The songs are more interesting, and it’s not all standard country slide guitars and everyone singing together. It’s got a lot more subtlety than Merle has here. Maybe this album had more influence on the country that came after it, but I’d have preferred it didn’t.
CL: Who cares? Country music is awful.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Three times is enough.
CL: Once is enough. Zero times is enough.
Listen to I’m A Lonesome Fugitive on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.