20 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

This LP traces Merle Haggard's journey from unknown ex-con to country music superstar, mixing proudly sung prison tunes ("Sing Me Back Home") with love songs as devastating as the finger-picked Christmas downer "If We Make It Through December." Then there’s "Okie From Muskogee," which sets wry, nationalist lyrics to clean, rock-influenced beats. And even though "What Have You Got Planned Tonight, Diana"—combining spoken-word narration with some of Haggard’s most glorious bellows—may have originally been a B-side, the warm odyssey of frontier romance holds its own amid genuine chart-toppers.

EDITORS’ NOTES

This LP traces Merle Haggard's journey from unknown ex-con to country music superstar, mixing proudly sung prison tunes ("Sing Me Back Home") with love songs as devastating as the finger-picked Christmas downer "If We Make It Through December." Then there’s "Okie From Muskogee," which sets wry, nationalist lyrics to clean, rock-influenced beats. And even though "What Have You Got Planned Tonight, Diana"—combining spoken-word narration with some of Haggard’s most glorious bellows—may have originally been a B-side, the warm odyssey of frontier romance holds its own amid genuine chart-toppers.

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