11.Medley: Old Time Religion / Pass Me Not / Sweet By And By
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Perhaps taking a cue from Columbia's theme-centered 2000 series of Johnny Cash compilations (GOD, MURDER, LOVE), Capitol gave Merle Haggard's work a similar treatment in 2001. Like Cash, Haggard was always regarded as a poet of the working class, and the four volumes of this series (HURTIN', DRINKIN', CHEATIN', and PRISON) reflect the proletarian ethos the hard-living Haggard knows so much about. The fact that his Capitol tenure encapsulated Haggard's most commercially and aesthetically successful recording years means that much more impact for this quartet of honky-tonk treasures.
Haggard has more first-hand experience with the subject of PRISON than most country singers. In fact, he was serving a sentence at San Quentin when Johnny Cash played a concert there and inspired the young troublemaker to pursue a career in country music. Accordingly, some of Merle's most acclaimed songs deal with crime and punishment. The outlaw's tale of regret "Mama Tried," and the gospel-tinged death row narrative "Sing Me Back Home" are gems of the Haggard catalogue. "I Made the Prison Band" was written by Hag's Bakersfield cohort Tommy Collins, but it seems made to order for Merle's own life experience. The cold, hard facts of life have seldom been more acutely observed than in the PRISON songs of Merle Haggard.