Merle Haggard

I Wish I Was Santa Claus

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It sounds pretty much as you'd expect, especially given the cover art, but this collision of Bakersfield country music and traditional Christmas material has a certain charm that's most apparent on the down-home versions of "Blue Christmas" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," and perhaps less perceptibly so in Merle Haggard's sly vocal on the title track. The Spanish guitar of "El Nino" is charming, while Haggard's inclusion of the stark "If We Make It Through December" is a timely reminder of the stresses that Yuletide hardship can bring.

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