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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"Wishing All These Old Things Were New" (2000)

The Nineties were a fallow period for Haggard, at least from an artistic standpoint. After three albums on Curb Records, he signed to the hip Los Angeles label Anti- and returned to form on 2000's If I Could Only Fly. (Upon release, Haggard quipped, "I'm giving it a higher score than any album I've made to date, but what the hell do I know?") The opening track "Wishing All These Old Things Were New" set the tone for his latest tales of redemption, wasting no time in cutting close to the bone: "Watching while some old friends do a line/holding back the want to in my own addicted mind." J.R.

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