Big City (Merle Haggard album)

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Big City
BigCityMerleHaggard.jpg
Studio album by Merle Haggard
Released October 1981
Recorded July 1981
Genre Country
Length 39:28
Label Epic
Producer Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard chronology
Songs for the Mama That Tried
(1980)
Big City
(1981)
A Taste of Yesterday's Wine
(1982)

Big City is the 33rd studio album by Merle Haggard, released in 1981. It was his debut on the Epic label after ending his association with MCA. Big City peaked at number three on the Billboard Country Album charts and number 161 on the Pop Album charts. It was an RIAA-certified Gold album.[1]

Background[edit]

After five years at MCA Records, Haggard jumped to Epic in 1982, and the move appeared to spark his creativity; he wrote or co-wrote eight of the LP's twelve tracks, including its two #1 singles, "Big City" and "My Favorite Memory." Haggard entered the studio with his band the Strangers and his mentor Lewis Talley and, in a two-day marathon recording session, produced enough songs for this release, plus Haggard’s 1982 LP, Going Where the Lonely Go. Many of the songs on Big City explore the struggle of the working man amid the complexities and challenges of urban life and aging.

The other single release, “Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver),” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and also won the Academy of Country Music 1982 Song of the Year.[citation needed]

Big City also contains a rerecording of "You Don't Have Very Far to Go," which had originally appeared on Haggard's 1967 album Branded Man. "I Always Get Lucky With You" was later recorded by Haggard's friend George Jones for his 1983 album Shine On and became his last #1 single.

The CD reissue of Big City features two bonus tracks: "I Won't Give Up My Train," a duet with Roger Miller, and the uncredited "Call Me."

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars [2]
Robert Christgau (B)[3]

Thom Jurek of Allmusic believes the album "stands among his finest—and most lasting—recordings," adding, "Big City, both the cut and the album, revisits the seemingly eternal themes in Haggard's best work—the plight of the honest, decent working man amid the squalor, complication, and contradiction of urban life."[2] Music critic Robert Christgau wrote "This isn't just for his cult—it's for the whole damn country audience... you can only tell how much filler there is by listening till you're sick of it."[3]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Big City" (Merle Haggard, Dean Holloway) – 3:01
  2. "My Favorite Memory" (Haggard) – 3:06
  3. "Good Old American Guest" (Haggard) – 2:36
  4. "I Think I'm Gonna Live Forever" (Benny Binion, Haggard, Dennis Hromek) – 2:29
  5. "This Song Is Mine" (Haggard) – 2:33
  6. "Stop The World & Let Me Off" (Carl Belew, W. S. Stevenson) – 3:18
  7. "Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)" (Haggard) – 4:14
  8. "Texas Fiddle Song" (Leona Williams) – 2:19
  9. "You Don't Have Very Far To Go" (Haggard, Red Simpson) – 3:14
  10. "I Always Get Lucky With You" (Gary Church, Haggard, Freddy Powers) – 3:31
  11. "Call Me" (Uncredited) – 4:18
  12. "I Won't Give Up My Train" (Mark Yeary) – 4:43

Personnel[edit]

  • Merle Haggard – guitar, vocals
  • Jimmy Belkin – fiddle
  • Roy Nichols – guitar, harmonic
  • Biff Adam – drums
  • Norm Hamlet – steel guitar, dobro
  • Dennis Hromek – bass
  • Tiny Moore – fiddle, mandolin
  • Bobby Wayne – guitar, background vocals
  • Leona Williams – background vocals
  • Mark Yeary – piano
  • Slyde Hyde – trombone
  • Don Markham – trumpet, saxophone

Production notes[edit]

  • Produced by Merle Haggard
  • Engineered by Lewis Talley
  • Mastered by Chris Athens

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 3
U.S. Billboard 200 161

References[edit]

  1. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for albums by Merle Haggard
  2. ^ a b Jurek, Tom. "Big City > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Big City > Review". Robert Christgau. Retrieved March 5, 2015.