All week, I had been planning to post some Merle Haggard, but listening to The Jayhawks tune I posted last night, I suddenly found myself in the mood for some Flying Burrito Brothers instead.
Which leads me to this song, instead.
Released in 1976, Gram Parsons posthumous album Sleepless Nights (formally credited to Gram Parsons/The Flyring Burrito Brothers) is a collection of songs recorded in 1970 (when he was part of The FBBs), and in 1973, as part of his sessions recordings for the Grievous Angel LP (when he wasn’t). Nine of the twelve tracks feature The FBB’s, and today’s pick is one of them.
Written by Merle Haggard, it first appeared on his 1968 album of the same name; Haggard penned it as a tribute to Jimmy “Rabbit” Kendrick, a fellow inmate at San Quentin prison, who devised an escape plan and invited Haggard to join him. However, they both agreed it would be best that Merle stayed in stir, “Rabbit” escaped but was re-captured two weeks later, and was ultimately executed for the murder of a state trooper. I love a story with a happy ending.
Happy because were it not for that unfortunate sequence of events, we might not have had Merle Haggard, and we may not have had his frankly staggering body of work, not least including this one:
Heartworn Highways is a documentary, shot at the end of 1975 and the start of 1976 which, according to wikipedia “…covers singer-songwriters whose songs are more traditional to early folk and country music instead of following in the tradition of the previous generation. Some of film’s featured performers are Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, David Allan Coe, Rodney Crowell, Gamble Rogers, Steve Young, and The Charlie Daniels Band.”
Some of those folks have popped up on these pages before, but here’s a debut appearance for Gamble Rogers, with a song which features in the movie:
This morning I was going to return to look at some more of those “song titles which could only appear in Country records” which I’ve previously dabbled in, but then I stumbled upon today’s chosen tune.
Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, who also co-wrote such Country greats like Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E and George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today – Putnam also wrote Green, Green Grass of Home, so you get some idea of the pedigree we’re dealing with here – this doesn’t quite fit the category, but it does have a mighty fine pun in the title nonetheless:
(Sort of original) content alert: here’s J&MC and Hope performing that song on the David Letterman show. The quality is shonky to say the least, but it’s worth a watch, if for no other reason than the tongue-in-cheek conversation between Letterman and musical director Paul Shaffer:
Now I’ve always loved that record – in fact, I think that the album it’s from, Stoned & Dethroned is one of the most under-rated albums I’ve ever heard, let alone owned – but I have always thought Sometimes Always was, lyrically, just a rehash of this: