Various Artists

Mama's Hungry Eyes: Tribute to Merle Haggard

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Haggard is arguably one of the most influential singer/songwriters in modern country music. He writes about the hard life: prisoners, blue collar and migrant workers--all outsiders, all proud.

The American panorama is covered on this collection: Brooks & Dunn drink away their problems on the honky tonkin' "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down," Pam Tillis takes flight with the classic one-that-got-away "Silver Wings." Throughout the album, the listener is constantly reminded of country music's debt to Haggard's songwriting.

Vince Gill's restrained yet tender "Farmer's Daughter" is sung in a register lower than Gill's usual soaring tenor, showing how strong Haggard's influence was. Cutting-edge act Radney Foster rocks out with "Running Kind." Alabama turns one of Hagard's prison songs, "Sing Me Back Home," into a gospel ballad. Haggard is also capable of writing love songs, and one highlight is Willie Nelson singing one of the best, "Today I Started Loving You Again."

Proceeds go to the Second Harvest Food Bank to help feed the nation's poor--the inspiration for Haggard's "Mama's Hungry Eyes."

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