Merle Haggard and the Strangers – Branded Man

Getting drunk and crying by yourself in the living room is not the healthiest thing to do, but, damn it, sometimes that is just what you need.  If you find yourself needing that kind of therapy, I have found an album to use as a soundtrack to your lonesomeness.

Merle Haggard is one of those names that you just have to know.  I am aware of his music, his legacy, and his story; but, I would not call myself a “fan.”  In fact, I would guess that 82% of people who claim to be a “Merle Haggard fan” only know two songs: Okie From Muskogee and The Fightin’ Side of Me.

However, Merle Haggard is considered one of the greatest to ever live for a reason.  His music elicits a wealth of emotion.  Branded Man is an incredibly sad record.  It is full of heartbreak songs written from the point of view of men who have been beaten by life.  These men are either in prison or in their own self-made prison of alcohol or helplessness.

Branded Man is a great example of the Bakersfield Sound.  It is gritty, simple, and unpolished country music with a Spanish influence and flair.  This record is a perfect blueprint for every new hipster country band that is trying to become famous without being played on the radio.

Grab a cheap six-pack of beer and sit in a dark room while crying to yourself and listening to this record.  You probably won’t feel any better afterwards, but you won’t feel any worse.

My favorite track: Loneliness is Eating Me Alive

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