Rolling Stone has a nice review of the new Merle Haggard box set “The Original Outlaw.”
Merle Haggard’s toughest song may be his 1968 country hit “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am.” Despite the title, it’s not about a working man — he sings in the voice of a hobo loner, drifting from place to place. “I keep thumbin’ through the phone books/Lookin’ for my daddy’s name in every town,” Hag sings — the way he picks up that line, cuts himself deep on it and sets it back down is the essence of his hard-boiled vocal genius. This could be the guy Bob Dylan sang about in “Tangled Up in Blue,” except he doesn’t even have a redheaded woman in his past — just empty roads. It’s the song they played at the funeral of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant, and you can still hear why.