HOLDING THINGS TOGETHER-THE MERLE HAGGARD SONGBOOK.

Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook.

Label: Ace Records.

For the latest instalment in their Songwriter Series, Ace Records turn the spotlight on the late Merle Haggard, who was one of the finest exponents of the Bakersfield Sound. Hag as he was known, eschewed the increasingly slick and homogenized country music that was coming out of Nashville in the early sixties. That sound wasn’t for Merle Haggard, who was one of the pioneers of the Bakersfield Sound, which provided an alternative for fans of country music.

By then, Merle Haggard was already a prolific songwriter who had enjoyed a string of hit singles. Merle Haggard was also blessed with a unique and truly memorable voice that could breathe life, meaning and emotion into the songs he recorded.

In total, Merle Haggard recorded over 100 singles which charted on the Billboard country Charts between 1962 and 1990. Around three-quarters of these songs plus many album tracks were written by Merle Haggard. Many of these tracks were then covered by other country artists, and a new generation of rock stars who had been playing them live. They then decided to cover one of Hag’s songs, which features on Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook,which was recently released by Ace Records as part of their Songwriter Series.

The best way to describe Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook is an eclectic selection of songs that features everyone from Gram Parsons, Bettye Swann, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Grateful Dead, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tammy Wynette, Tammy Wynette, Brenda Lee, Dean Martin, Dolly Parton, The Everly Brothers, Country Joe McDonald, Hank Williams Jr and Emmylou Harris. This all-star cast play their part in the success of Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook, which is a truly eclectic collection of songs.

Opening Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook is The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis who contributes a cover of Swinging Doors. It gives way to the Singing Cowboy, Roy Rogers who contributes Okie From Muskogee. Things get soulful when Bettye Swann, one of soul’s best kept secrets, delivers an emotive reading of Just Because You Can’t Be Mine. There’s a return to country music with Tammy Wynette’s cover of The Legend Of Bonnie And Clyde.

Gram Parson features three times on Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook. This includes on The Byrds’ Life In Prison from their album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. He also was a member of The Flying Burrito Bros when they recorded White Line Fever and The International Submarine Band when they laid down I Must Be Somebody Else You’ve Known. These three tracks are a reminder of a truly talented singer who never got the opportunity to fulfil his huge potential.

There’s a number of other familiar faces on Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook, including Lynyrd Skynyrd who contribute Honky Tonk Night Time Man. They’re joined by Brenda Lee who covers Everybody’s Had The Blues, the Grateful Dead interpret Mama Tried and Dean Martin delivers a version I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am. Other familiar faces include Dolly Parton who covers Life’s Like Poetry and The Everly Brothers Sing Me Back Home. Elvin Bishop’s version of I Can’t Hold Myself In Line, Country Joe McDonald’s reading of Rainbow Stew and Hank Williams Jr’s rendition of I’d Rather Be Gone are all welcome additions. So are Living With The Shades Pulled Down by George Thorogood and The Destroyers and Emmylou Harris’ poignant and powerful cover of The Bottle Let Me Down which closes Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook on a high.

While many music fans and even critics remember the man who many simply referred to as Hag, as a giant of country music and one of the finest purveyors of the Bakersfield Sound, his songs were covered by all types of singers and bands. There’s everything from country, blues, psychedelia and soul on Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook which was recently released by Ace Records. It’s a truly eclectic selection of songs penned by Hag, and even features Holding Things Together by Merle Haggard and The Strangers. Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook a reminder of a truly talented singer and songwriter who was one of the giants of country music, and is a welcome inductee into Ace Records Songwriter Series. 

Holding Things Together-The Merle Haggard Songbook.

 

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