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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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  • Beverly | Sep 16, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Thanks for all the good music.
    It’s much enjoyed and much appreciated.

  • Lesajune | Sep 12, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Mr, Haggard
    I love your music and have for many years, I heard a song I never herd before The Farmers Daughters, Well the song fit my dad and i to a tee. I heard the song on the night of my Wedding Reception and it was the Daddy Daughter dance when the band played that song. I was Married June 8 2001 and lost my Dad to liver Cancer on June 27 2001 so that song has a lot of meaning for me. Now when I hear it, it takes me back to that night with my Dad and your last dance. Thank you with all my Heart for that song it hold a special place in my heart and all ways will,May God Bless you and your Family. Lesajune

  • scottie | Aug 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm


  • Bobbie Sue | Jul 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    My Momma & Daddy both past away a year ago this March,…. the last song she heard was Silver Wings,it was her favorite,i grew up you were always there,..My Momma & Daddy both loved you and I do to,was singen The Bottle Let Me Down by the time I was 5,.knew every word of it,God Bless you and good luck on your new Cd,……..I will be getten it ,….for my Momma!

  • dean conroy | Jun 20, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    hello merle im from new zealand i am a fan of yours listened to every album youve made your a true legend i teach music and my 7 year old son can play drums hoping he will follow in my footsteps we jam together and one song we sing is lonsome fugitive our favourite keep making the wonderful music you have brought to us over the years all the best from the land of the long white cloud aotearoa new zealand

  • Ron | May 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Merle, I got hooked on your music when I was in the Army in FT.Richardson, Alaska back in 1981 (Big City) got me hooked . I saw you in St.Paul, Mn. June 5, 1993, and just saw you again in Mesa, Az. on May 9th You just keep getting better n better. I have about 700+ CD’s and I have more of your music than any other artist out there, and for good reason YOU ARE THE BEST!!!! Thanks and keep up the great work. I’m going on 50 and hope I look as good as you do when I get to be your age…………….51? hehe!!!

  • Chris | May 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I live in a little town called Celina,TN on the beautiful Dale Hollow Lake. I was singing along with you on the radio along with mom when I was little enough to stand in the front seat of her Monte Carlo on the way to town. Some of my best memories include your music. Parkin with my girl, partyin on the lake with friends and just gettin through the day. Alot of my life has played out with your music in the background and I wouldnt of had it any other way. Im 36 now but you are part of ” My greatest memories of all”. I still listen to you often and wish you all the best..I hope to meet you someday…

  • Kim | Apr 30, 2010 at 6:34 am

    You and I have enjoyed the worst of times and the best of times, you’ve danced with my mother when I was a pup and you’ve carried me through some horrible and great moments in my life for this I thank you my friend.

  • Nikole | Apr 29, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Merle I’m a HUGE FAN of you my grandpa((RICHARD)) got me in to your music I luv it country peaple like us can realy relate to it & every now an again we will hear one of your funny songs like we don’t smoke mariwana(( I spelled that wrong I
    kno)) in muskcogee down here in peggs Oklahoma were a BIG fan
    of that. song. And if it’s not to much trouble could you PLEASE come to Tulsa Oklahoma I realy want to go to your concert . OH yEah by the way my name is Nikole love u tons and keep doing wat ur doin we luv ya down here in peggs & muskcogee haha GOD BLESS YOU TAKE CARE AND I HOPE TOO SEE YOU SOON

  • Elizabeth ink | Apr 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Awesome show at Stagecoach! It was the highlight of my weekend! I was up in the front with a big ol’ smile on my face!

    I’ve played trombone since I was a kid and if I could play with anybody, it would be you.

    See ya at Ink N Iron!!!

  • Elizabeth ink | Apr 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Hag, your new album is brilliant! I love the wide array of musical influence, specially in the horns. And it does truly provide some comfort to hear the issues Americans are facing today in a song. Thanks for putting a voice to them again! And of course for singing the songs that ring so true to the heart. You’ve included all the elements of a classic Hag album. Everything that’s always made you so great and such a voice for the American people!!!

  • seth | Apr 25, 2010 at 8:16 am

    wow is all i can say!!!!! merle i be there are alot of guys that are 74 that would love to sound the way you do!!!! not saying your old!! lol.. great cd if you dont have it go grab it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks merle…

  • Janet | Apr 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Got a new Tattoo about 4 weeks ago. It’s a huge star that reads “Twinle Twinkle Lucky Star.” Love all of your music. It truly is a gift. I can’t wait to get your new C.D.

  • Cindy | Apr 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Merle, Heard a clip from the CD this morning on PBS radio. Wow, you just keep getting better and better. Thanks !!!!!

  • Marko W. Self | Apr 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Merle, What an inspiration to the millions of fans thru the years you have provided us with your music and song telling. Im a former traveling musician aged 57 and last I saw you perform was years ago at the circle theatre in Santa clara ca. I saw Your Son Marty and Daughter at Sharkeys Nugget in Gardnerville years ago. Oh the stories ! Thats for another time and place. God bless you and yours always. Long live Oildale and the checkerboard.

  • dj | Apr 22, 2010 at 8:40 am

    You did it again! Just a great album that fits in perfectly with “If I could Fly” and “The Peer Sessions”. I LOVE “Live and Love Always”; more Theresa please!!!

    Anyway–terrific music…keep up the good work and more importantly, keep speaking out on the political issues. When you talk, folks listen.

  • sourkrauter | Apr 20, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Mr. Haggard….
    I hadn’t a clue that you were releasing a new album today, shows how much I pay attention. So, I had a listen and I like what I heard. Anyway, I love your music and hope to see you play it soon. See you at the Palace… All the best!

  • Joanne | Apr 20, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Got I Am What I Am today………. and I am so glad that you are what you are…… Awesome new music.

  • kathy mills | Apr 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Hey Merle! Hope you read all these comments :) I am looking forward to the new CD as I have everything else you have ever done. My favorite is still “The Way I Am.” I have seen you perform many times and am always thrilled with the show. My favorite venue was the Arena Theatre in Houston. So intimate a setting..felt like everyone could see and hear well.
    I remember once at the Rodeo in Houston, you started singing “That’s The Way Love Goes” and a young couple (about 21) got up and started dancing in the aisle. I Loved It…just proved that your music spans generations.
    Anyway, thanks for the lovely memories and the wonderfully entertaining music. You are a National Treasure.

  • Thomas Ellis | Apr 20, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Been a Merle Haggard fan from the start, and the Strangers the is none better . . . And there is only one Merle Haggard.

  • Robert Ford | Apr 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Mighty Merle Haggard……….! Wow what a musician, what a legend ! My all time favorite country….no just all time favorite singer, period.!!!!!! Thanks for all the wonderful music, smiles, tears and memories Merle. Your music has accompanied every campfire I have ever sat beside. and that my friend is a lot! Thank you once again for the music and thank you for a venue to post a comment, Sincerly….Robert Ford aka Gator Bob.

  • john | Apr 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

    new brunswick moncton canada iwould just like to say that you are the best . keep on rocking man.

  • Jos | Apr 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I’m a Merle fan from The Netherlands. I like to listen to Merle’s music and watch the DVD’s of his concerts, at Billy Bob’s.
    I bought the CD ‘I am what I am’ today at I-tunes. I like it very much. Merle at his best. A true living legend!

  • Stan Billing | Apr 18, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Merle, I`m here in Australia listening to a preview of your new album.Even better than I had expected
    You are like red wine, getting better with age. Wish you would tour Australia again one day. Been listening to you for years and I hope there is plenty to go yet. Keep them songs coming Merle.

  • carmen brandt | Apr 18, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Dear Merel; can’t wait until your new C.D. gets here,my husband got me hooked on you and your music. You are on all the time, sometimes during the nite one of us will say aloud Merel’s on.Our family and friends think we are both becoming a little strange that we share our space with you and yours. Keep on singing to us we love every song you have done,My very favorite is Silver Wings. We will see you in MICHIGAN soon.always Ken and Carmen Brandt

  • Charles Tidd | Apr 18, 2010 at 4:54 am

    April 20, can’t wait it’s my birthday and you release a new CD, it doesn’t get any better than this. Keep up the great work – your the best.

  • peggy | Apr 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Merle,you haveabsolutely been my favorite singer forever.I listen to you on xm radio.My husband & i have seen Leona Williams in Branson,Mo.The reason I mentioned her is because your songs go together.Hope to see you again in concert soon.

  • Nancy McAllester | Apr 16, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I listened to some of the songs from your new CD on NPR yesterday and they are classic Haggard. I have been a fan for some 40 years. You never cease to amaze me with your music. There is something always for everyone on your albums. Bud you are the best. Your songs touch my soul in so many ways. See you in Vegas.

  • Taru Elkama | Apr 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Great! I’ve been waiting this CD. It’s great that you still make people happy with your songs. :)

  • janet madison | Apr 16, 2010 at 3:46 am

    DYNAMIC music Merle…have had my CD preordered for sometime ..cant wait to get it in my hand but have already heard it around the clock here on your site.Stranger in the City..its you Merle!! Oil Tanker Train its you Merle!!!!!!!!I can wait again to see you in person.Hey Theresa good job on Live and Love Always. Theresa you are so very fortunate to have a husband like Merle.Just both of you keep up the music..I live for Merle music and MERLE.God Bless all your endeavors and once agan CANT WAIT to see you both.Love you so much..Hey how about a DVD now??Since I have had the greatest and fortunate time of sharing the biggest thrill of my life of sharing moments with the both of you your music is so much more special to me than anything.I can just see what you write about and sing about .If there was ever a time for sure in this world that we ALL neeed MERLE music its now.For you all the way and always will be.AGAIN great CD!!!!

  • Bud Messenger | Apr 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Hi Merle.It is great to know about your new album.I know it will be one of the best in your life.I have been a fan ever sence you began.I do have every song you have recorded and i still play them almost every day.Good Luck and God Speed to you …Bud

  • Sharon | Apr 15, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Hi Merle, thank you yet again for another great album. I will cherish this new album when it arrives as much as the other 70 odd albums I own. I think that you are an inspiration to up and coming artists, if onjly they could sing like you do, and take me to the places you so. I only have to close my eyes and listen to your music and you take me to another world, a world far better than the one I live in. Thank you so much for the special talent that you share with us all. fan for life, Sharon

  • Kenny Reed | Apr 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    merle i have been a friend you never met but maybe one day we will met you are as solid as a rock god bless you and your family kenny reed mobile al

  • Wheel | Apr 14, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    At 55, of course I heard you growing up but never listened much until the Dead covered Mama Tried. Saw you in Reno (and Freddie Powers)and Boise over the years I’ve lived in the west. My young daughter went to see your drummer years ago and got a kick how the “older” women kept cruising up to the stage for a closer look at you. It always was in pairs since they we’re embarassed to go alone. I enjoyed the bands; all of them but particularly the ones with Eldon and Tiny. See you later this sping. Great album on NPR today!

  • Ronald Erling Andreassen | Apr 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Merle, i have always been a great fan of you and your country music.I have many cd and dvd and I,m love them all. Regards Ronald from Norway

  • harry | Apr 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

    merle,is one of the best ,like Johnny Cash

  • zac | Apr 14, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I’m nineteen and a college student from Michigan. I can remember singing along to your c.d. 1994 while visiting my grandparents (I was 4), and I just want to let you know that you still reach younger people with your music. Every song you perform and record is unique, and I haven’t found one that I don’t like. My best friend and I are going to come see you at the Crawford County Fair this summer (I know it’s in Missouri, but it’s worth the drive.) We had tickets to your show at the Soaring Eagle last year, but for some reason the show was cancelled… Anyways keep the good music coming, and we’ll see you this summer.


  • Van Williamson | Apr 14, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Hi Merle….I’m a producer at Morning Edition at National Public Radio. I’ll be talking down the line to you in about an hour about your new CD and maybe a few ruminations about the state of….whatever. Very much looking forward to producing this interview; I’ve been a fan for many years, am a guitar player myself, and wish I had a dollar for every Merle Haggard song I’ve sung in a thousand nitespots over the years. Loved every second of it, of course. Hope you like the piece, which will be on in a couple weeks. I’ll let Tresa know.

  • Graham Byrne | Apr 13, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Merle and Theresa
    Looking forward to your new album. I have all your music and play it all the time. Sing a lot of your songs at gigs here in Australia Love ya Hag and can’t wait to hear the new songs. Happy ‘belated’ Birthday for April 6, my son Mark was born on the same day. He’s now 39. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. Bless you both and keep your eyes on Jesus.
    Graham from the outback town of Broken Hill in New South Wales. Australia.

  • frank | Apr 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    good to here your back , ill be getting this new release and lookin forward to listening to it as i have with all the rest

  • David Nichols | Apr 13, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Enjoyed watching a 1970’s UTube video of you playing your inlaid guitar! Happy belated bday — We’ll be getting and playing the new album in the shop as soon as it’s out — Malone, NY (think Montreal, Canada!)

  • stuart challis | Apr 13, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Got everything that you have ever released Merle and have got your new one on order from
    Can’t wait to hear it,
    Stuart in the UK

  • Geir Hansen | Apr 13, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Congratulations on your new CD Merle. Looking very much forward to it appearing here in Norway. I bet it is filled with that usual, incomparable magic that always pleases the ear. All the best!

  • Andrzej | Apr 12, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Merle. Keep on rocking.

  • Sid | Apr 12, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Merle you are the best. I was singin along with you on the radio along with mom when I was little enough to stand in the front seat of her Ford Falcon on the way to town (waaay before seat belt and child restraint laws). Some of my best memories include your music. Parkin with my girl, partyin on the river with friends and just gettin through the day. Alot of my life has played out with your music in the background and I wouldnt of had it any other way. Im 45 now but you are part of ” My greatest memories of all”. I still listen to you often and wish you all the best.

  • jeane melton | Apr 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Hi, been a fan since I can remember. Keep the magic going.

  • mark waterhouse | Apr 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    merle i heard a preview of oil tanker train on sirrius sat radio while traveling home to michigan sounds great and hope to catch up withn u somewhere in michigan soon

  • jack cleaver | Apr 11, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Have been waiting for the new C.D. since “Biff” told me about it. I’ve been a big fan for alot of years and a good friend of “Biff”‘s. He is a classmate from Hershey. We are still waiting for you to come back East to one of the many “Casinos” in the Philadelphia area or Atlantic City.
    Best of luck and I hope you top the charts with multi millions sold with this album.

  • ulla noreen | Apr 10, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Wating for your new cd – pre-order from Amazon.
    I am 81 since 1 march this year – a woman.
    For the last 4 years I´m always listening to all of your cd:s Ican get hold of. It is not so easy I can tell.
    I love DVD:s available spec. Poet of the commo man and all from Austin,Texas.
    And I find your autobiography very touching and interesting.
    I LOVE ALL FROM YOU AND ABOUT YOU – And lovely Theresa and the children Jenessa and Ben.
    May God bless you all.

  • Ivan | Apr 10, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Merle i,m down here in the South Seas, bought a place here, But just wanted to wish you all the very best with the new album, Probably be awhile before i can get it, but cant wait to hear it, Your “one of a kind” And thank you for all this great music you keep giving us
    Best Wishes
    Ivan Mullan