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I AM WHAT I AM – New CD Coming April 20

I AM WHAT I AM – New CD Coming April 20

  |   News   |   162 Comments





I AM WHAT I AMMERLE HAGGARD returns on April 20 with his new CD I AM WHAT I AM, his first disc for Vanguard Records, and an inspired effort from a rejuvenated legend. Co-produced by MERLE with longtime cohort Lou Bradley, the disc features 12 songs including the candid title track, with typically stellar playing from MERLE’s band the Strangers.

MERLE turns inward on his new disc, and the result isn’t some great claim to Truth, but a concession to the album title’s simple truth. If the songs here are occasionally tinged with regret, I AM WHAT I AM is no place for apologies – indeed, the tone of these tracks is celebratory as often as not, the reflection of a man profoundly comfortable in his weathered skin.

Don Markham’s understated trumpet lends both vibrancy to pensive tracks and restraint to rowdier cuts, and Doug Colosio’s piano offers a reference point to MERLE’s Western swing roots (notably on “Pretty When It’s New” and “The Road To My Heart”). I AM WHAT I AM is anchored by MERLE’s band The Strangers – which, in addition to Markham and Colosio, includes drummer Biff Adam, Norm Hamlet on steel guitar, Scott Joss on fiddle and guitar, and Kevin Williams on bass with lead guitars from Tim Howard and MERLE’s son Ben Haggard – while a short list of guest musicians (including Bob Dylan drummer George Receli) sound right at home with the band in the comfortable confines of MERLE’s Shade Tree Manor studio in Northern California.

It’s a prime canvas for the artist’s work, and MERLE doesn’t disappoint. Every song is imbued with the near alchemical power of his dazzling vocal performances, and MERLE’s interpretive mastery and unmatched phrasing continues to bring on impressive measures of sensitivity, candor and authority.

I AM WHAT I AM is a typically far-reaching set, but remains centered around a series of contemplations on love, in all of its intoxicating and vexing forms. Examining romance with a poet’s beatific vulnerability, MERLE travels from the ardent bloom of romance to the intricate ensemble of family life to the burnt out confusion of fading passion, yet always returns to love’s eternally redemptive power. On tracks like “Pretty When It’s New,” a study of new love’s marvelous voltage, and “How Did You Find Me Here” which convincingly takes him from morbid depression to elated joy, MERLE sounds almost reborn, intensely involved and consumed with a sheer sense of wonder that’s enhanced further by those characteristically masterful vocals.

Elsewhere, MERLE lets loose on a duet with his wife Theresa on the rollicking “Live And Love Always,” revisits his childhood on “Oil Tanker Train,” and finds the contentment of home sweet home on “Down At The End Of The Road.” MERLE’s often closely guarded innocence is completely exposed, showing a tenderness that, considering the counterpoint of his battle-scarred, hardened exterior, creates a remarkably resonant experience.

The track listing for I AM WHAT I AM is as follows:

  1. I’ve Seen It Go Away
  2. Pretty When It’s New
  3. Oil Tanker Train
  4. Live And Love Always
  5. The Road To My Heart
  6. How Did You Find Me Here
  7. We’re Falling In Love Again
  8. Bad Actor
  9. Down At The End Of The Road
  10. Stranger In The City
  11. Mexican Bands
  12. I Am What I Am

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  • Bob | Apr 9, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Hi Merle,
    I hope this message finds you doing well. My best wishes to you and your family.
    I look forward to hearing your newest release. I’ve been a fan for 40 years and have seen many of your shows.
    Your music has been with me during every phase of my life including my wedding.
    Most fondly your music was always the backround music on all of the fishing trips my dad and I took together.
    My dad passed away not long ago and I lost my best friend. And again your music quietly played during his service.
    Your concerts over the years have provided me with some wonderful memories of my dad. I thank you for that.
    I was lucky enough to meet you a couple of times briefly. Although I know you meet thousands of fans and
    couldn’t possibly remember any one specifically, those are nights I’ll never forget. I remember what a kind and sweet
    lady Bonnie Qwens was. She invited me on the bus for coffee one night years ago with her, Biff, and Norm. Bonnie assumed
    I probably didn;t know who she was. lol I assured her I knew very well who she was and was thrilled to meet her.
    I haven’t done any fishing since dad passed. Maybe someday I’ll bring myself to go again? Just doesn’t seem right
    without him. But your music is always playing around my house. Thanks again for so many great years of music. You sound
    as good today as ever. My dad used to tell me I was a good enough picker to be a “Stranger”! lol I couldn’t play guitar around
    my dad without doing some “Hag” tunes! lol I just can’t tell you how many great memories I have that your music was a part of,
    and in some cases the cause. Thanks again Merle! Can’t wait to hear the new CD. My best to you and yours.

    Take care, God bless
    Bob […]

  • cmordr | Apr 9, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Thanks for coming to Tulsa with Willie, Ray, & Ray Benson.

  • JILL | Apr 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    It’s about time!!! : ) I can’t wait!!!

  • Nathan E Scott | Apr 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Mr Haggard,
    First of all my friend there are not enough words in the English dictionary to describe just what your music means to the country music fans around the world. As for myself I am extremely proud as well as excited to see you releasing a new album and as an added bonus it is releasing on my birthday which is one of the greatest birthday presents that I could have ever asked for! Secondly Mr Haggard I personally owe you a huge thank you sir! There is not enough room on here and it would take too much time for me to post the reasons but to make a long story short Mr Haggard your music along with other legends such as Jones and Jennings and Williams and a list far too long to mention saved my life. You unknowingly instilled a love of country music and of performing into my heart and into my soul that allowed me to loose over 534 pounds and survive 39 surgeries and 3 congestive heart failures. As a musician, singer and songwriter myself Mr Haggard I can not even begin to think of just where I might be today of what might have happened to me if it had not been for the music that you have performed over the years. Country music is my life my love and my passion and the only thing that I am any good at in any way. I have done two tv shows on the TLC and the DISCOVERY networks and am currently in talks to do my third and final show. I would be extremely honored and humbled to have you take a part in this show. Mr Haggard I have set and watched on the tv and listen to the radios and have been deeply saddened by artist’s failure to give the credit to whom it is do in the country music industry. I do not want to be like this. I would like to have you make an appearance on my show and to personally have the chance to thank you in person for all the motivation that you have unknowingly given me over the years. PLEASE DO NOT POST THIS ON YOUR WEBSITE!!! I am leaving you my contact information so that you may contact me if you are interested. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and hope to hear from you very soon. Thank you so very much and may the music and the legacy that you have established over the years live on in the hearts and minds of true country music fans such as myself for many many years to come. Your fan and humble friend,
    Nathan E Scott
    […] anytime day or night!!! It is never too early or too late to get a call from Merle Haggard not in my house!!!!!!!!!! GOD BLESS

  • Bill Nudo | Apr 9, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Dear Hag:

    Happy Belated Birthday!! And, I am so happy to hear that a new Merle Haggard album is finally coming out! Man, it’s been awile for some “new” Hag tunes. Even one day without some new Merle Haggard is too many. I’m so glad to see that your son, Ben is playing on the album. I’m sure you are very proud of him. And, it’s great to see that Biff Adam is back. I hope you can find some room in your schedule to come East for some shows. I’m sure it’s tough on the road, but I thought I’d let you know that we miss seeing you around these parts. I live about 52 miles South of Pittsburgh, and about 65 miles Southeast of Wheeling, WV. I always enjoyed going to your shows at the old Capital Theater in Wheeling, WV. You might want to keep in mind that they are renovating the Capital Theater. I’ll try to let you know when it’s open again. But, we have a great place in my hometown of Uniontown, PA that you played years ago. It’s now called The State Theater for the Arts. When you were here it was simply The State Theater. It’s been refurbished, also. Uniontown is about 52 miles South of Pittsburgh. We are a small town. So, don’t be concerned about the “big city” deal here. We’re about 3 miles from the old mining town that I convinced them to have you come to which was Leisenring, PA if you might remember. I told you about it because of one time when talking to you you told me that you just don’t like the big cities with all the concrete and stuff. You put on a great show there. Please give it some thought. And, man, will I be looking forward to hearing “I Am What I Am”!!

  • Oliver | Apr 8, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Im glad you have decided to record a new c.d. I cant wait to here it. best wishes to you and Theresa.

  • Kelly Coomer | Apr 8, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Our family is looking forward to your new CD. I have been a fan since I was 15. I will be 46 this year. I walked into my future husbands home and heard you playing in their kitchen. “Back to the Bar Rooms” on LP was blasting. That was it for me, I have been loving you and collecting your music and everything else I can find about you since that day. We have 2 girls, 22 and 25. They grew up hearing you and love you as much as we do. My husband and I have seen you in concert several times. We saw you in 08 in Renfro Valley. I had mentioned on your website then how I would love to hear you sing ” Today I Started Loving You Again” When you did sing that song I really felt like you did it for me. I was in tears! This year we will see you again at Renfro Valley in July. I bought 4 tickets this time so my girls could see you too. They are so excited. You are a living legend and greatly loved and respected in our household. See you soon!

  • James Pope | Apr 8, 2010 at 6:13 am

    W ill be looking for your cd.I love so much of your music.I still have apicture of me sitting with you on your bus in Birmingham, the late sixties.Daddy Frank was one of my favorites along with Mamma Tried and If we make it thru December.I really hope your new album does well.

  • Larry Welty | Apr 7, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Been listening since 1969;You always amaze me with your new songs!

  • bonnie morgan | Apr 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Merle, we have every song you’ve ever recorded, can’t wait to hear your new CD.

  • R.A.Wright | Apr 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Heard track 1-“Sean it go away” on XM Outlaw Country today. Awesome. Clearly one of the best.

  • Karl-gustaf Ryderup | Apr 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Love that you got a new CD-out. You are one of my fav singers and songwriters of all time. You were my mothers fav too . She was born 1919, and she is now longer with us. Hope i can come to the u.s.a. so i can see you LIVE

  • John Oliver | Apr 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    HI, Old Buddy,,,I sure get your new CD as soon as it out, I got every recording you made in the last 40 years, I 52 year old and have been a big fan a long time , I will see you in VA. this fall Take care,,,

  • Ga Country Boy | Apr 7, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Waiting for it to come out…Country Hoss

  • nick nixon | Apr 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I’ve most of ‘em, and will buy this next one, cause you are the one “got a have” in country music. When I was on Mercury records, I copied you so much that they reminded me there was already a mearl. I agree and feel very fortunate to have met you several times. I like that old frank mull that helps you also. nick nixon

  • JOGARAJAH. | Apr 7, 2010 at 6:32 am


  • KATHY LEINBERGER | Apr 7, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Happy Brithday Merle! You are a true American Hero! Already pre-ordered your new album from Amazon. I think my husband and I have just about every album you ever made. All the best to you and yours from two of your biggest fans!

  • Teri Cartwright | Apr 7, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Anxious to purchase your latest CD. You have carried me thru the best and worst times of my 46 years and I know this CD will be added to the collection. I love your music and the personal way which you present it. Thanks, Merle, for your special type of music. Love from Bay City, Texas

  • Greg Smith Sr | Apr 6, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    It will be nothing but pure listening pleasure to hear yet another set of your recordings. I sit in our screened in back yard favorite gathering spot, that is attached to my wifes family homestead house of 140 years, which we live in just far enough out of the city to enjoy the peace and quiet of the country, your music has always fit me well and alot of it if not all seems to take me to a place or time I will always remember. Thank you merle for that, and keep em comin I love to strum along while havin a little sip on a beautifull summers day.

  • Brenda (One From the West) | Apr 6, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Looking forward to the new album. Peace.

  • skip heller | Apr 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    you’re my jimmie rodgers.

  • Sharon Turnquist | Apr 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Merle……Hope your birthday was the BEST EVER !!! Anxious to hear your new CD ……..Your voice has ALWAYS been SPECTACULAR and AMAZING how it just keeps on getting BETTER !! Best of health to you…….Your #1 Fan in MN……..!

  • Billy D,,,,,,,, | Apr 6, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Merle im a Big Fan of u and your music i have all the music u ever made and go to concerts when close enuf to us your the best in my book im hoping you are coming back to ky sometime this summer me and the wife would luv to see and hear your music once again merle stay strong and be cool if your close to lexington stop in and ill buy all the beer you and the band can stand once again merle your the King of country music hope to see ya soon ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Billy

  • Barb Snell | Apr 6, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Merle, You have been my favorite singer all my life since I can remember, in 1960 till 2010 and I hope for many many years. You could sing Mary Had a Lamb, and make it a hit. You just have that kind of voice. When I moved to Texas after loosing my husband in 1979 I saw you in Fort Worth, TX,
    You came on after Marty Robbins, he opened for you. It was an awesome show, my daughter bought me tickets for my Birthday, so it had to be October or November that I saw you. What a show, I thought I would never forget. No one else sings country, but you, G.Jones, Tammy Wynette, I have all of your CDs and records, 8 tracks, cassettes actually all I could find to buy. The other guys aren’t country, they are good, but not country.

    You are he best, God Bless, and I wish you a long and properous life, with lots of new CDs.or DVDs. You are one of a kind, there will never be another unless it is your son. Wish you the best and hope you come to Forth Worth, to Billy Bobs very soon.

  • SAMUEL ADJEI ASHITEY-CANADA | Apr 6, 2010 at 7:30 pm


  • Margaret | Apr 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    This is a good-looking album cover and the black hat looks great on Merle. I rarely buy CDs anymore and look forward to purchasing Merle Haggard’s CD “I Am What I Am.” I read somewhere that this is Merle’s 76th album! I listened to a little of each song and know this is going to be a favorite CD of mine. I am thankful you are what you are. Have a special birthday.

  • Dennis Green | Apr 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Hey Merle, I have seen you so many times and most recently had 2nd row to see you and Kris play at the Bass Hall. I LOVE the song Pretty when it’s new that you have played a few times live for us. There is no way for you to truly comprehend how much your music means to us. Each in a different way I am sure but you are one of a kind sir. Still waiting for you to release the Pay Per View Show from Las Vegas (For the Record) on DVD. I purchased it and watched it for years until the tape finally wore out.

    It’s time to let Benny do a solo in your show! lol

  • Name (required) | Apr 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    happy birthday hag,ready to buy your new cd,[ i;ve got all the others] see you in napa, ca. no. #1 hag fan , RYAN JOHNSON, SANTA ROSA CA.

  • Jana Henderson | Apr 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Cool! Look forward to hearing it. Can’t wait to see you at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma.

  • Dicky Estes | Apr 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Big Fan ,since Swinging Doors hit the JukeBoxes,way back,,,well no need to continue.I am excited about your new album and can not wait to purchase it. You sir are the Class Act that made me a Country Music Fan, while working I catch my self singing random songs you have intrusted my memory with forever.
    Thank You for your continued presence in the entertainment world.
    God Bless ,

  • Karen | Apr 6, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Theresa, Can’t wait to hear you and Benny on the CD. You will have to autograph it for me.
    See you in July

  • ella stewart | Apr 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    God Bless You ,Wish you much success,on your new album.Always glad when i can make it to your concerts,here in OKLAHOMA.I’MPROUD TO BE AN OKIE. I gave you a picture of my cat i named Mighty Merle at your concert you had in O.K.C. HOPE YOU GOT IT

  • cindy peggs | Apr 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    merle, i have been a fan since i can remember, stacking those 45’s on the record player. they dont make em like you anymore. i love you from the inside out weathered skin and all. you are an awesome artist. i am a 53 year old female in love with merle ever since i can remember. keep em coming merle. as long as they are out there im gonna buy them, old and new. love your #1 fan cindy.

  • albert todd | Apr 6, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    I consider myself to be your biggest fan up Canada way…have caught you several times…never disappointed me…hope you come up here again soon

  • Marge | Apr 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    The songs sounds fantastic–can’t wait to purchase the CD as soon as it’s available. Excited about seeing you here in Bend, OR in June. Have loved your music forever. You are the BEST!!!

  • bluetaterbaby | Apr 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I’m so excited to get this CD! Merle is my all time favorite and I can’t hear enough. I’m so glad he continues to release more of his wonderful music!

  • venita | Apr 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm


  • BETTY BLOOM | Apr 6, 2010 at 3:17 pm


  • Dana V Bender | Apr 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Happy Birthday Merle~I look forward to your brand new album. I have been a fan since the 60s…listening to your records that my father played on console stereo. Today is also my birthday…and with great news of your forthcoming release…I salute and toast you for all the years of great real country music. Hope to see you down the road…

  • Evelyn Taylor | Apr 6, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Hi Merle. I am 48 years old and grew up listening to your music. Now I play your music to my 7 adult kids and 15 grandchildren. My uncle, Louis Tryfonas, was a big fan of yours and sang alot of your songs. (he was an entertainer as well) Keep singing my friend. We love you. :)

  • ruby Long | Apr 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Happy Birthday to a wonderful intertainer.God Bless You and your family

  • Ruby Long | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Merle, I have always enjoed your songs.I was born in the 50’s so I listen to you.Saw you live in Elk City,Ok. in1997 Not to long after you had surgery and it was the best concert I had ever in my life been to ..Can’t wait until the CD comes out in April

  • Kirk Fiander | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Merle I have just about every album that you released and I can’t wait to add this one to my collection .Happy Birthday Hag.and thanks for all the great music.I hope there’s way more to come. God Bless.

  • Teresa Blackwell | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Mr. Haggard I hope this is your best birthday yet, and the ones to follow will be many, and that we will be blessed to have you singing to us for a very long time. Thank you so much for the inspiration you have been to my husband Leonard he’s the man he is today through your inspiration. I walked down the isle to Leonard singing THAT’S THE WAY LOVE GOES to me 6 years ago. Thank you Teresa for taking care of him and allowing him to be a part of our lives. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …………..
    Teresa Blackwell

  • Tiffany Adkins | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I absolutely cannot wait to get this CD! I am only 27, but my daddy raised me on your amazing music and I’ve loved you since I was four. I saw you in Valdosta, GA in 2006, and it was the best concert I’ve ever been to. You are always amazing!!! Happy Birthday!!

  • Don | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I’ve been a fan forever and I look forward to the new tunes. You and the band used to stay at hotels I managed in Myrtle Beach. It was always a charge to see the Chief roll in. Scrambled eggs and green beans for breakfast, Budweiser late at night on the fishing pier out back . And Happy Birthday, compadre!

  • Lynda | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I am 66 years old and have loved listening to Merle Haggard since he first started singing. He’s the best there is, the best there ever was and the best that ever will be. I have been to some of his concerts in my younger days and loved every one of them. Would love to go again.

  • billy mounce | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm


  • Connie Carpenter | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Merle- Cant wait until your new cd comes out! I will be buying it that day! Thank you for keeping it country! Best of luck!

  • Pamela | Apr 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Congrats on your newest release! Thanks for sharing your heart with the world. You’re the greatest, Merle! God bless you, Theresa and your family.