I doubt that Merle Haggard would have reached his true potential as a singer had he not taken a detour through San Quentin. Mama Tried was a cautionary tale — a reminder that no matter how much someone may try to steer us down the right road it’s up to us to choose that road. The thing that Merle Haggard thought would wreck his career turned out to be the thing that took his career to iconic status. He became successful when he dared to sing about the experiences that shaped who he was.
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In 2020 everything we see in the news is scary. It’s like a never-ending horror movie where a two-headed monster — pandemic and pandemonium — roams the earth seeking whom it may devour. One head spews a poisonous virus like a Biblical plague. The other morphs into a legion of masked demons that run rampant in the streets rioting, looting and burning. It is not a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The monster attacks its victims physically but exacts an even greater toll psychologically. The result is anxiety, fear, anger and frustration.