Merle Haggard

If you say PIONEER TROUBADOUR you have to put Merle Haggard at the top of any list.  We are proud to be associated

with Mr. Haggard and working with his old guitar player and

original Pioneer Troubadour, Norm Stephens.  I met Norm through Merle and our friend and

partner Frank Mull, who is working with us on this project and has been wearing many hats

for the Haggard Organization for many years, or should I say decades.


We are happy to announce that the theme song for the PIONEER TROUBADOURS DVD is

the Hag's "Troubadour" penned by him in 1994ish he told me.  All you have to do is listen to

some of the words to get a great feel for the life that many musicians that here we call anything

from "troubadours" to "road warriors"...and again if ever their was a road warrior, it is the Hag.








Maverick country singer Merle Haggard represents an unusual intersection in American music -- a crossroad where the grand traditions of folk, pop, jazz and blues are used to create his own surprisingly soulful form of expression. With an impressive 39 #1 country hits and numerous awards, Haggard has always set his own trends -- clearly a powerful, creative force. Haggard remains an uncompromising artist whose work relies upon the honesty and purity of his vision, not the obligations of being a country star. "I don't like all of country music," he says. "In fact, I like very little of it."

Despite the flag-waving aggression of his 1969 number one hit "Okie From Muskogee," Haggard has produced elegantly crafted, moving songs with a consistency that ranks him solidly alongside such renowned talents as Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. The quality of his writing transcends all boundaries; his songs have been recorded by a wide variety of rock & rollers, from the Grateful Dead to Elvis Costello, a fact that underscores Haggard's appeal and his staunch refusal to recognize any restriction imposed by public perception, making him the ultimate underground anti-hipster.

Born in a converted boxcar in Oildale, California, by adolescence he was wandering as far as Texas, beginning a pattern that ruled his life for over a decade: arrest, incarceration, escape, re-capture. Classified an incorrigible -- the fruit of his reputation as an escape artist -- he wound up doing hard time in San Quentin. After his release in 1962, thoughts of solitary confinement and the prison yard death of a friend made him realize what a mess he'd become and Haggard, who'd been singing and playing guitar for years, finally turned to a career in music.

By 1965 he was signed to Capitol Records and began scoring a string of hit records, hard-boiled classics like "Lonesome Fugitive," "Branded Man" and "The Bottle Let Me Down." Eventually winning a full criminal pardon from then Governor Ronald Reagan -- a permanent display a the Country Music Hall of Fame -- Haggard positively roared through the music business, brawling and boozing with an unstoppable fervor. His creative drive is equally formidable -- he reassembled Bob Wills' Texas Playboys for a final recording session with their old boss, but only after mastering the fiddle, a previously unfamiliar and physically demanding instrument -- and he managed it in a incredible six months flat.

Now, after 40 years of traveling America's highways, Merle Haggard has found a new musical home at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. When Cracker Barrel asked him to do an exclusive CD, he selected 12 previously unreleased recordings that pay tribute to the working man. The CD, “Working Man's Journey,” blends new songs with new recordings of some of his classics. "I had the working man in mind when I went through the archives," says Haggard. "All of these songs seem to work together. We're talking about a guy who spent his lifetime writing songs for the common man." 

On sale now at 559 Cracker Barrel locations and online at, “Working Man's Journey” features six new songs that contribute to Haggard's status as the "voice of the common man." Fans will quickly identify with "C'mon Sixty-Five," a tribute to the working man who dreams of retirement. Haggard says that the CD's previously unreleased version of "Shade Tree Fix-It Man" reminds him of fishing trips with his favorite uncle, a man who often fixed his own truck. "I think back to when I was nine years old," he says. "We would throw a two-man boat in the back of that silver truck. Every time I see an old 1931 Model-A pickup, it takes me back." 

“Working Man's Journey” also features previously unreleased versions of "If We Make It Through December," "Are the Good Times Really Over," "Working Man Blues," "Kern River" and "Rainbow Stew." Haggard’s other new CD is a collaboration with Willie Nelson and Ray Price entitled “Last of the Breed”; on the double CD, the three legends display their unabashed love for Texas-fried country, providing the perfect soundtrack to beer-soaked heartbreak and honky-tonk blues.

From a bio by Mark Williams for Last of The Breed 


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