Merle Haggard: 30 Essential Songs

From the defiance of "The Fightin' Side of Me" to the melancholy of "If We Make It Through December"

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"I'm a Lonesome Fugitive" (1967)

It would be easy to assume that Haggard wrote this song about a fugitive running from the law, but credits actually go to Liz and Casey Anderson, who crafted a rich story loaded with metaphor and references to everything from Rudyard Kipling to Bob Dylan. Apparently, the Andersons weren't aware of Haggard's sordid past, and even the Hag himself was awestruck at how well the song resonated with his own personal history — which helped him slink perfectly into the midtempo western shuffle that not only speaks of his past, but his present too. "I'm on the run, the highway is my home," are as much the words of a highway-dwelling musician as a criminal on the lam. M.M.

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