While Merle Haggard was in San Quentin for robbery in his early 20s, he saw Johnny Cash's legendary prison performances. These shows inspired Merle to trade a life of petty crime and jail time for the life of a country singer. In the early '60s, he was integral to the development of the "Bakersfield Sound" (along with country music icon Buck Owens), honing the signature backbeat-heavy, electric honky-tonk on several of his hit singles over the years. It was his lyrics, however, that made Merle Haggard "The Hag." From the wry sarcasm of "Okie From Muskogee" to "Mama Tried," a prison song pumped full of genuine sorrow and loss, each successive hit showed The Hag had become a talent to be reckoned with. His amazing career has spanned five decades, and now he's coming to town to give us a lesson in "the hard life." And you can dance to it too. Merle Haggard performs Thursday at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Call 214-692-0203 or visit DallasSymphony.org for tickets and info.
Thu., March 12, 8 p.m., 2009