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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"Big City" (1982)

After a rough two days of recording 23 songs in 48 hours (in the midst of 1981's scorching hot July), Haggard's band was packing up when he went outside to check on his best friend and bus driver, Dean Holloway. Peeved by the heat and grueling schedule, Holloway actually uttered the phrase, "I'm tired of this dirty old city," inspiring the country man to run back inside and take Holloway's anger out on paper with the rest of the band. Thanks to Holloway's inspiring words, the Hag rolled out of Los Angeles with a song tapped into urban frustrations that still resonate with Americans today — an escapist dream to move "somewhere in the middle of Montana." (Maybe that's where John Mayer got the idea to flee from his troubles and relocate to Big Sky Country in 2011.) Regardless, the title track to Big City became Haggard's 27th Number One single on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in April of '82. E.M.


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