Sing Me Back Home (song)

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"Sing Me Back Home"
Haggard - Sing Me Back Home cover.jpg
Single by Merle Haggard
from the album Sing Me Back Home
Released November 1967
Format 7"
Genre Country
Length 2:51
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Merle Haggard
Producer(s) Ken Nelson
Merle Haggard singles chronology
"Branded Man"
"Sing Me Back Home"
"The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde"

"Sing Me Back Home" is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard. It was released in November 1967 as the first single and title track from the album Sing Me Back Home. The song was Merle Haggard's third number one. The single spent two weeks at number one and a total of 17 weeks on the country chart.[1] It was also recorded live by the Byrds on There Is a Season.

Song story[edit]

The song was among several notable Haggard songs that touched on a common theme of his 1960s and early 1970s recordings -- prison. Haggard himself spent three years at San Quentin State Prison in California for his role in a botched robbery. "Sing Me Back Home" draws upon his friendship with a fellow inmate, "Rabbit," who was executed after an escape attempt led to the death of a security guard.[2]

Here, the singer takes the role of an inmate at a state penitentiary, where a condemned prisoner is being led toward the death chamber. The inmate, who regularly plays guitar and sings in his jail cell to pass the time, is asked to perform a final song at the condemned prisoner's request before he and the guards continue on. As the song is completed, he reflects on a church choir's visit to the prison just a week earlier, where members performed hymns for the inmates; one of the songs evoked the soon-to-be-executed prisoner's memories of his mother and carefree childhood ... before his life went wrong.

Cover versions[edit]

The Everly Brothers recorded a version of the song for their 1968 album Roots.

Joan Baez recorded the song, along with another Haggard song, "Mama Tried", in 1969, during sessions for her (I Live) One Day at a Time album, though neither song was included on the final album; they would eventually be released on her 1993 boxed set Rare, Live & Classic.

Gram Parsons recorded a version with The Flying Burrito Brothers for a shelved album in 1970, along with "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down". They were both released posthumously on Sleepless Nights.

The Grateful Dead performed the song 38 times in concert between 1971 and 1973.[3]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1967–1968) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 7


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 146. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "The SetList Program - Grateful Dead Setlists, Listener Experiences, and Statistics". Retrieved 2016-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Merle Haggard – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Merle Haggard.
Preceded by
"For Loving You"
by Bill Anderson and Jan Howard
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

January 20-January 27, 1968
Succeeded by
"Skip a Rope"
by Henson Cargill