Merle Haggard – Working Man’s Journey

Merle Haggard – Working Man’s Journey / 2007 Cracker Barrel / 12 Tracks / http://www.merlehaggard.com /

Before I had a chance to read up on Merle Haggard, I had no clue that ey broke out of prison over 17 times before making a career for eirself as a country star. Haggard has came to complete a 180 in regards to working with and against the system. Where it was breaking out of prison in the sixties, it was breaking into the Cracker Barrel shop in 2007. “Working Man’s Journey” is just one of two different albums that Haggard culled together for 2007; “The Bluegrass Sessions”, which reached #43 on the top country albums chart, was released on the McCoury Music / Hag Records label. “Working Man’s Journey” shows unity between the old and the new of Haggard’s career, in that there are six new and six old tracks on this album. As one could conceivably glean from the title of this album, the common thread that links these tracks together is the “working man”.

This means that outside of the title track, “Poor Boy Mansion”, “Are The Good Times Really Over”, and “Shade Tree Fix-It Man” all pound home a narrative about the blue-collar worker and eir travails through feast and famine. Where I usually come up with some sort of problem with the orientation of the tracks on the album, I have to give Haggard and the folks over at Cracker Barrel a serious kudos here; there is a staggered arrangement of these tracks where the older tracks have a heavier incidence during the first part of the disc, where one the second part of the disc, there are much more in the way of new tracks. When it comes to a disc that is not classified as entirely “new”, there is a tendency to not pay as close of attention to the disc. However, some of Haggard’s classic tracks are at the beginning, something that will surely bring individuals in and induce them to listen to when the new tracks really gain prominence.

By picking up both “Working Man’s Journey” and “The Bluegrass Sessions”, individuals will have a good idea of what influences are currently working within Haggard and give individuals a little bit more context about how and why these tracks were chosen. For individuals that are fans of the story of the average American, pick up “Working Man’s Journey” – while it is not a completely new album, the inclusion of these new songs shines a new light on these Haggard classics.

Top Tracks: In The Mountains To Forget, Kern River

Rating: 6.5/10

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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