Merle Haggard is one of the best country singers to emerge from the Bakersfield Sound (the earthy honky-tonk strain that was/is the "alternative sound" to the more orchestrated Nashville sound). Along with Buck Owens and Bakersfield disciple Dwight Yoakam, Haggard has kept country music real-making music for the people without any pretensions or grand proclamations. His songs tell stories about drinking, heartbreak, outlaws and working-class life.
Songs like "Hungry Eyes" and "If We Make It Through December" bespeak the struggles of family life from the eyes of people trying to make their way through it whole. Haggard's music reflects the influence of country music's past: "Cherokee Maiden" is a classic example of western swing, with its swing-jazz feel and Haggard's mellow, Tommy Duncan-influenced croon. This budget-priced collection is a perfect introduction to one of America's most valuable musical lights.