Merle Haggard Merle Haggard's Christmas Present
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- by Loretta Lynn ~ The Best of 20th Century Masters / Christmas Collection ~ $8.84
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- Released: August 15, 1990
- Originally Released: 1994
- Label: Curb Mod Afw
- 1.If We Make It Through December
- 2.Santa Claus And Popcorn
- 3.Bobby Wants A Puppy For Christmas
- 4.Daddy Won't Be Home For Christmas
- 5.Grandma's Christmas Card
- 6.White Christmas
- 7.Silver Bells
- 8.Winter Wonderland
- 9.Silent Night
- 10.Jingle Bells
First released in 1973, this C&W holiday evergreen has not only held up well but also gained stature with time. The Hag's aching, mellifluous baritone is in as fine a form as it was at any point in his long, prolific career, and his grumpy, blue-collar heart betrays the soft and sentimental core he's battled to hide for years.
The showpiece, of course, is Haggard's towering, belt-tightening anthem, "If We Make It Through December;" a song that marries familial dedication, Woody Guthrie-esque socio-political relevance, a sublime arrangement, and a crackerjack melody for a rare Christmas song of year-round usefulness. Merle's remaining four originals cite Santa, popcorn, puppy dogs, a missing daddy, and a card from grandma with such unflinching sincerity that only a Grinch could doubt him. The five standards are all first-rate, but Haggard's "Silver Bells" is positively definitive. At just over 25 minutes, A CHRISTMAS PRESENT is a bit brief but perfect from front to back.
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