Hag (album)

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Hag
Studio album by Merle Haggard
Released April 22, 1971
Recorded March, July, August, September 1970
Capitol Records Studio, Hollywood, CA and RCA Victor Studios, Nashville, TN
Genre Country
Label Capitol ST-735
Producer Ken Nelson
Merle Haggard chronology
A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (or, My Salute to Bob Wills)
(1970)
Hag
(1971)
Someday We'll Look Back
(1971)

Hag is an album by Merle Haggard released on Capitol Records in 1971. It became his fifth album to top the Billboard country album charts. It also reached number 66 on the pop albums chart.

History[edit]

Hag was Haggard's first album with a majority of original songs in two years, following two tribute albums (to Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills) and two live albums in 1969 and 1970. While Hag spawned no #1 hits, it did include three singles that went to number 3. In his 2013 book The Running Kind, Haggard biographer David Cantwell contends that Hag is was "the most sustained and closest-to-coherent political statement of his career...The world Hag portrays on Hag is one teetering on the brink. From atop some middle-American watchtower, Merle delivers a nearly despairing state of the union." The album opens with the Ernest Tubb World War II era-hit "Soldier's Last Letter," a song that took on a new relevance in 1971 with America's continued involvement in the Vietnam War. Haggard addresses social issues plaguing the country at home, such as street violence ("Jesus Take Hold") and homelessness ("Sidewalks of Chicago"). The LP also contains some of Haggard's most delicately sung love songs, such as the melancholy "Shelly's Winter Love" and "The Farmer's Daughter." Haggard would rerecord "No Reason to Quit" for his 1983 duet album Pancho and Lefty with Willie Nelson.

Hag was reissued along with Let Me Tell You About a Song on CD by Beat Goes On Records in 2002.[1]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars [2]
Robert Christgau (C+)[3]
Pitchfork Media 9/10 stars[4]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic calls it "one of his absolute best albums—which means a lot, because he recorded no shortage of great records. In contrast to the rowdy live albums and the raucous Western swing that preceded it, Hag is quite quiet and reflective, sometimes referencing the turmoil within America at the end of the '60s, but more often finding Haggard turning inward."[2] Music critic Robert Christgau wrote "Four country hits on Haggard's first straight studio album in a year and a half, but only the simple goodbye song "I Can't Be Myself" escapes bathos."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Merle Haggard unless otherwise noted:

  1. "Soldier's Last Letter" (Redd Stewart, Ernest Tubb) – 2:11
  2. "Shelly's Winter Love" – 3:22
  3. "Jesus, Take a Hold" – 2:16
  4. "I Can't Be Myself" – 2:51
  5. "I'm a Good Loser" – 2:38
  6. "Sidewalks of Chicago" (Dave Kirby) – 2:29
  7. "No Reason to Quit" (Dean Holloway) – 2:35
  8. "If You've Got Time (To Say Goodbye)" – 2:52
  9. "The Farmer's Daughter" – 2:55
  10. "I've Done It All" – 2:15

Personnel[edit]

  • Merle Haggard – vocals, guitar
  • Roy Nichols – guitar
  • Red Lane – guitar
  • Bobby Wayne – guitar
  • Norman Hamlet – pedal steel guitar, dobro
  • Dennis Hromek – bass
  • Biff Adam – drums
  • Johnny Gimble – fiddle
  • Earl Ball – piano
  • George French – piano
  • Glen D. Hardin – piano

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1971 Billboard Country albums 1
1971 Billboard Pop albums 66

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic entry for Hag/Let Me Tell You About a Song. Retrieved December 2009.
  2. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Hag > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Hag > Review". Robert Christgau. Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. "Hag > Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved February 19, 2015.