Certain Songs #1131: Merle Haggard – “Huntsville”

Album: Someday, We’ll Look Back
Year: 1971

Sure, on one hand, this yet another one of Merle Haggard’s prison songs. But on the other hand, it’s so fucking cool on every single level.

The story of the hardest of hard cases, they’ve got him bound in leg irons, because they know – and he knows they know — that the second he has even the tiniest of chances, he’s gonna make a run for his freedom.

Hey it ain’t so far to Mexico
That I can find my way
They’re takin’ me down to Huntsville
But I’m not gonna stay

Between the laid-back beat, the low-down guitar and the shining organ, “Huntsville” just glides with almost no effort, almost belying the desperate man in the center of the song.

And just listen to the lead guitar — I have no idea who it is, as the wikipedia article for Someday, We’ll Look Back lists several different guitarists — because it’s amazing. It’s everywhere: fantastic introductory riff, the jangling during the verse, power chords before the choruses, and a wickedly sharp solo after the second chorus.

In any event, a song like “Huntsville” is why I’m kicking myself for not getting into Hag earlier.


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