In his 1968 song Mama Tried, Merle Haggard sang of turning 21 in prison. Haggard, who died Wednesday in California at age 79, had done just that, though not, as he sang in the song, “doing life without parole.”
Haggard’s youth of petty crime, financial insecurity and freight-car hopping eventually informed songs that spoke plainly but not predictably of social outcasts, blue-collar concerns and persistent restlessness.
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