Haggard returns this fall with new, homespun set of songs 

Merle Haggard may be 74. But he’s lived a life almost as colorful as Woody Guthrie’s, and sung about it for us in gravelly country classics like “Mama Tried,” “The Fightin’ Side Of Me” and “Okie From Muskogee.”

And whenever he sang, there was always a ring of truth to it, a sense of lived-to-tell honesty that could only have been earned through hardscrabble experience. So it’s good news that he’s still singing, still hitting the road on exhaustive tours. “Music keeps me alive – it makes me breathe better,” he recently observed.

Better news still? Haggard is returning on Oct. 4 with a brand-new album for Vanguard, “Working In Tennessee.” It has a couple of covers on it, like “Jackson” and “Cocaine Blues,” plus a new version of his own “Working Man Blues,” featuring Willie Nelson and his son, Ben Haggard.

But it’s mainly a set of seasoned originals, like the Western Swing title track. And it’s a nice homemade affair, cooked up at his Northern California Tally Studio with Lou Bradley co-producing. Talk about singing us back home! For more on this great – and still remarkably politically-active – artist, point-click to www.merlehaggard.com.

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Tom Lanham

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