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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"Today I Started Loving You Again" (1968)

Around 2 a.m. one night in Dallas in 1967, Merle Haggard asked his wife Bonnie Owens if she could go down the street to get him a hamburger. When she returned to their motel room, he had written "Today I Started Loving You Again." "It's amazing to me the things that come out of Merle's mouth when he's writing," Owens said in Nicholas Dawidoff’s Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music. "I never heard him talk like that. He'd say later, 'Bonnie, I don't ever remember saying those words. It's like God put 'em through me. I knew he said them — I was there. I'd write them down." Released in 1968 as the B-Side to "The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde," it didn't make the country Top Ten until Sammi Smith released her cover in 1975, and it's echoed out of country bars ever since. P.D.

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