In celebration of Merle Haggard’s birthday, here’s a video of him playing “Mama Tried.”
Merle Haggard turns 78 today (April 6). The country legend’s music, voice and songwriting style have inspired countless country artists over the decades. Many of Haggard’s songs tell stories about checkered pasts, troubled upbringings and life outside the law.
His most iconic song, “Mama Tried”, is loosely based on his own life story, particularly the pain he caused his mother by winding up in San Quentin Prison. Haggard didn’t serve “life without parole,” but he did do a stint in the California jail. The experience had a profound effect on Haggard’s music and inspired a number of his classic songs, including “Mama Tried.”
In 1968, the song went No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Charts and spent four weeks at the top of the charts. In the video above, a young Haggard performs the song on a television show sometime during the late 60s. The show chose to use a backdrop of carousel ponies — a bizarre background, considering the song’s lyrical content and performer.
The Hag is currently on tour in the US. You can view a full list of tour dates here.