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Playlist: The Very Best of Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard

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Album Review

This 14-track compilation covering Merle Haggard's Epic years from 1981-1986 is as complete as a single disc can possibly be. It doesn't replace the double-disc Essential Merle Haggard, but it does offer a stellar collection of tracks from that period, including some expected singles — a couple of which, like "Big City" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star," were Top Ten smashes. Not all of the choices are obvious, though. Sure, the aforementioned tunes, as well as "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)," "Goin' Where the Lonely Go," and "I Always Get Lucky with You" are here. But there are also three killer duets — "Yesterday's Wine" with George Jones, "A Place to Fall Apart" with Janie Fricke, and "Pancho and Lefty" with Willie Nelson — in the mix. There isn't a weak tune in the bunch. For the money, terrible packaging aside, it's difficult to beat. [The Sony Playlist series is a new budget format for releasing compilations and best-ofs. It functions as a conventional disc for any player in an eco-friendly package that contains only the track list and source album titles. However, It also functions as a CD-ROM featuring a large PDF file with complete liner notes and track information, CD-quality and MP3-ready files, photos, wallpaper, and other extras.]


Born: 06 April 1937 in Bakersfield, CA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As a performer and a songwriter, Merle Haggard was the most important country artist to emerge in the 1960s, and he became one of the leading figures of the Bakersfield country scene in the '60s. While his music remained hardcore country, he pushed the boundaries of the music quite far. Like his idol, Bob Wills, his music was a melting pot that drew from all forms of traditional American music — country, jazz, blues, and folk — and in the process, developed a distinctive style of his...
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