Merle Haggard – Branded Man

***I have posted my 10 favorite covers of Beatle songs at Keith’s site nostaligicitalian ***

This takes me back to riding with my dad and him wearing a Merle Haggard 8-Track out completely. I knew so many of Merle’s songs before I was 6. One big regret I have is that I never saw Merle Haggard live. Haggard would be legally pardoned for his past crimes by California’s Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971.

This song peaked at #1 in the US Hot 100 Billboard Country Charts in 1967.

Merle Haggard went to jail for robbery in 1957, and was released in 1960. This song is about how he felt that no matter what he did, who would always be known for his time spent in jail “branded” as an inmate.

He was serving his time at San Quentin prison when Johnny Cash performed there. That event changed his life.

Future Eric Clapton drummer Jim Gordon played on this song.

Branded Man

I’d like to hold my head up and be proud of who I am
But they won’t let my secret go untold
I paid the debt I owed them, but they’re still not satisfied
Now I’m a branded man out in the cold

When they let me out of prison, I held my head up high
Determined I would rise above the shame
But no matter where I’m living, the black mark follows me
I’m branded with a number on my name

I’d like to hold my head up and be proud of who I am
But they won’t let my secret go untold
I paid the debt I owed them, but they’re still not satisfied
Now I’m a branded man out in the cold

If I live to be a hundred, I guess I’ll never clear my name
‘Cause everybody knows I’ve been in jai
No matter where I’m living, I’ve got to tell them where I’ve been
Or they’ll send me back to prison if I fail

I’d like to hold my head up and be proud of who I am
But they won’t let my secret go untold
I paid the debt I owed them, but they’re still not satisfied
Now I’m a branded man out in the cold

Now I’m a branded man out in the cold

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

34 thoughts on “Merle Haggard – Branded Man”

      1. Yes! Very mechanical. I think we had less than ten tapes, and played them over and over. I have an old 1970s stereo deck with 8-track player that I got at a neighbor’s garage sale 10+ years ago. I need to pick up an 8-track tape in a vintage shop to see if the player works.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My buddy found a bootleg Beatles 8-track and gave it to me. I have to hook the machine I have up again. It sure made you appreciate the song once you got to hear it unless it was split between two tracks.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I know he had a rough upbringing, where something happened to the dad and mom raised them near the train yard. “Mama Tried” one of his best. Merle Haggard is a country legend! So much good music. There are a lot of people that walk in those shoes 😦 The laws need to be changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They even lived in a train box car that was converted into a house. Merle went back to it before he passed on. I really regret not seeing him Lisa.

      Country music is a different animal…I remember Merle opened up for Clint Black…that confuses me coming from the rock world…that would be like the Rolling Stones opening up for Green Day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah yes, that’s what it was a train box car. I know he rode the rails also. Sorry you never got a chance to see him live. Don’t you think a lot of a band’s fame has to do with promotions? I am reading George’s book, I, Me, Mine and just got to the part about their experience in The Phillippines. Scary stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, promotion has a lot to do with it plus how much radio play you get. The music has to stand up though to the promotion.

        Yes that was scary…it’s a wonder the Beatles came out alive. That is the book that Lennon was upset about right before he died. John was hurt because he said he was hardly in it as an influence.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m sure he and George have reconciled in the afterlife. I’m sorry Lennon was hurt by it. I admire John’s ability to speak his mind, but I don’t think he realized that he had the power he did to hurt others. I’m sure he made slams on Geo along the way and never thought twice about it. As sensitive as Geo was, they probably hurt twice as much coming from a person he looked at as a brother.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. John was the worse out of all of them by the remarks…they all had that Liverpool straight talk but yea…John had that cutting wit on top of that…a dangerous thing.
        Oh they loved each other like brothers…and that is something they always had…that is the reason they split up and the Stones didn’t…it wasn’t just business with the Beatles.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. With me I grew up with it because of where I live…but I can honestly say I like him. Okie From Muskogee I disagree with strongly…still don’t know if he was sincere or if it was a parody.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the tune and love Merle. One of my favorite musician in all genres. What a voice. Not to one up you Max but I seen Haggard and the Strangers. What a great band. So much subtle jazz going on. That clip of him doing impressions made me laugh out loud. Many talents. I did love the guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I am jealous…I do regret not seeing him. I grew up with him with my dad. When I hear his voice I think of coffee and breakfast because Dad would have him on early in the morning.

      Like

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