Merle Haggard

Today I Started Loving You Again

Composed by Bonnie Owens / Merle Haggard

Song Review by

Merle Haggard is known outside of country music circles mostly for his tough-guy outlaw image, with a slew of prison and hard-living songs. But he is also capable of writing devastating songs about heartbreak and human nature. As with a few other great country songwriters, much of Haggard's material seems to exemplify the oft-quoted Shakespearean edict from Hamlet: "This above all: to thine own self be true." Haggard's narrators, like the Bard's, usually have to undergo a sort of journey to finally arrive at such truth. Haggard usually wraps it all up in less than four minutes. Over a loping acoustic guitar, Haggard begins the refrain in his most tender and vulnerably boyish voice: "Today I started loving you again/I'm right back where I've really always been/I got over you just long enough to let my heartaches mend/And today, I started loving you again." He lays in a simple seventh chord on "just long enough," a country music classic, if not a cliché, but one that induces shivers; you know it is coming, but there's still no preparing for it -- some things just work. "Today I Started Loving You Again" -- written with Haggard's one-time wife, Bonnie Owens, who also happened to be the former wife of his friend and fellow Bakersfield sound pioneer, Buck Owens -- was something of an unexpected hit, a B-side on the "Bonnie and Clyde" single that took off on its own via listener response and requests to radio stations. With over 400 recordings of the song, there are sure to be some oddballs in the batch. The Lettermen, of all groups, covered the song, giving it an ultra-smooth, Carpenters-meet-the Four Freshmen approach that somehow works. This is not really as surprising as it first seems when one considers the fact that Haggard, the first country artist to appear in the celebrated jazz journal Downbeat, has often cited Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra alongside his other influences like Lefty Frizell and Bob Wills. Like Sinatra and Frizell, as well as his friend Willie Nelson, Haggard inhabits a song, experimenting with phrasing and hanging on certain words for effect. Though he was often considered a rebel against the smooth countrypolitan sound out of Nashville, he continues the cross-pollination -- for which Wills was known -- of country music with jazz elements, as well as rock & roll, folk, blues, and other American music forms. The original "Today I Started Loving You Again," though, is unadulterated honky tonk; a real crying-in-your-beer song. A strong man admits his weakness and his mistake, crawling back with his tail between his legs.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Best of the Best of Merle Haggard [Capitol] 1972 Capitol 2:20
The Best of the Early Years 1991 Curb 2:19
Super Hits, Vol. 2 1994 Sony Music 3:44
The Lonesome Fugitive: The Merle Haggard Anthology (1963-1977) 1995 Razor & Tie 2:21
Today I Started Loving You Again [King] 1996 King / King 3:45
The One & Only 1996 Intercontinental Records 3:45
Golden Classics: 23 Classic Tracks 1996 Double Play Records
The Best of the Best of Merle Haggard [Federal] 1996 Edge / Federal Records 2:21
Super Hits/Super Hits, Vol. 2/Super Hits, Vol. 3 1997 Sony Music Distribution 3:44
Legendary Performer 1997 Boomerang Records / Beacon Records
Country Love Songs [Crimson] 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:43
Very Best of Country [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:43
This Is Merle Haggard 1998 Music Club Records 3:45
Legendary Country Songwriters 1998
Various Artists
Masters 3:46
Mega Country [10 CD] 1998
Various Artists
Americana Records, Inc.
World of Country & Western, Vol. 3 1999
Various Artists
ZYX Music 3:34
Live at Billy Bob's Texas: Motorcycle Cowboy 1999 Smith Entertainment / Image Entertainment 3:56
Super Hit Set 2000 King 3:46
Oh Boy Classics Presents: Merle Haggard 2000 Oh Boy 3:44
Lonesome Fugitive: Live 2001 Synergy 2:04
20 Greatest Hits 2002 Capitol/EMI Records 2:20
Country Lovin' [Delta] 2002
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 3:33
David Allan Coe Presents Merle Haggard 2002 Coe Pop Records 3:44
Country Legends 2002 St. Clair 3:33
20 Legendary Hits 2003 Platinum Disc 3:48
24 at No. 1 2003 Teevee Records 3:45
Momma Tried 2003 Mojo Music (Independent) 2:06
The Collection [Madacy] 2003 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:22
Hits 2003 K-Tel Distribution 3:44
Workin' Man Blues Live 2003 Acrobat 3:28
Signature Series: Heart of Country 2004
Various Artists
Reader's Digest Music 3:42
Collection [EMI] 2004 EMI Music Distribution
Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson 2004 Platinum Disc 2:03
Merle Haggard [Platinum Disc] 2004 Platinum Disc 2:03
It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad) [Compilation] 2005 CBUJ Distribution 3:49
The Best of Merle Haggard [St. Clair] 2005 St. Clair / Essential Records 2:04
Essential Country, Vol. 2: Duets 2005
Various Artists
Hey Good Lookin! 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:43
Superstars of Country: Party Time 2005
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:21
Country Hit Parade: Love Songs 2006 Direct Source 3:43
Fightin Side of Me [Cbuj Ent Compilation] 2006 CBUJ Distribution 3:49
Country Love and Heart...Break 2006
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:43
Hag: The Best of Merle Haggard 2006 Capitol 2:21
Live! [Acrobat] 2006 Hho 3:29
18 Country Love Songs 2006
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:44
Lifetime of Country Romance: Gentle on My Mind 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:22
Live in Concert: The Platinum Artist Series 2007 St. Clair 2:05
In Concert 1983 2007 Audiovisual
Superstars of Country [Time Life] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:21
Hag: The Studio Recordings 1969-1976 2007 Bear Family Records 2:03
Merle Haggard [St. Clair] 2007 St. Clair 2:04
Disc 1 2007 St. Clair 2:04
Live at the Concord Pavillion 2008 Country Stars 3:33
Merle Haggard Collector's Edition 2008 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:44
20 Hits, Vol. 2 2008 Curb 3:45
Best of Country Favorites 2010
Various Artists
Sonoma 2:03
Everybody's Had the Blues [Red Bus] 2011 Red Bus Digital 3:41
Mama Tried: The Very Best of Merle Haggard 2012 Red Bus Digital 3:41
Swinging Doors: Hits Collection 2012 Gusto Records 3:44
Legends of Country: Lookin' For Love 2012
Various Artists
Life / Time 2:21
Legends of Country 2013
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:21
No Image 2013 Excalibur 2:01
The Classic Years 2016 Stargrove 2:01
Live at Church Street Station 2016 Javelin 3:21
No Image
Various Artists
Awesome Inc. 2:01
It's Country [Play 27-7]
Various Artists
Play 24-7 / Play 27-7 2:05
Live on the Silver Eagle Radio Show Forced Exposure / Hotspur 5:33
Mama Tried: The Best of Merle Haggard Sound and Vision 2:01
Okie from Muskogee [Excalibur] Excalibur 2:01
The  Fighting Side of Me Sound and Vision 2:01
The  Way I Am [Red Bus] Red Bus 3:41
No Image Capitol
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