100 Songs, 4 Hours 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Boasting a voluminous 100 songs, Down Every Road 1962-94 delivers a weighty four volumes of Merle Haggard. It's easily the best one-stop-shop representation of his musical arc's great depth (you'd have to be a Haggard completist to pine for those obscure tunes that didn't make the cut). The cream of his crop is represented well, starting with the honky-tonkin' "Skid Row," which Haggard recorded for Talley Records in 1963. Cut the same year, "Sing A Sad Song" gets early countrypolitan production sounding diametrically slick. But what's more interesting is listening to the evolution of the Bakersfield sound starting with "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers" from his 1965 debut album Strangers to 1968's "Mama Tried." By "Sing Me Back Home" which surfaced later that year, Haggard had pioneered a genre, presaged California country-rock and honed his knack for the narratives that make his workingman's twang so gripping. While there's nary a hint of the man's obsession with Bob Wills, the collection finishes nicely with an urban-cowboy rendition of "Pancho and Lefty" and 1994's foreboding "In My Next Life."

EDITORS’ NOTES

Boasting a voluminous 100 songs, Down Every Road 1962-94 delivers a weighty four volumes of Merle Haggard. It's easily the best one-stop-shop representation of his musical arc's great depth (you'd have to be a Haggard completist to pine for those obscure tunes that didn't make the cut). The cream of his crop is represented well, starting with the honky-tonkin' "Skid Row," which Haggard recorded for Talley Records in 1963. Cut the same year, "Sing A Sad Song" gets early countrypolitan production sounding diametrically slick. But what's more interesting is listening to the evolution of the Bakersfield sound starting with "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers" from his 1965 debut album Strangers to 1968's "Mama Tried." By "Sing Me Back Home" which surfaced later that year, Haggard had pioneered a genre, presaged California country-rock and honed his knack for the narratives that make his workingman's twang so gripping. While there's nary a hint of the man's obsession with Bob Wills, the collection finishes nicely with an urban-cowboy rendition of "Pancho and Lefty" and 1994's foreboding "In My Next Life."

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