- Released: March 1, 2008
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Uncut - 3/00, p.784 stars out of 5
- "...His underrated, beautifully matured baritone and band of Western swing sharpshooters lovingly revive a native American art form..."
Dirty Linen - 2-3/00, pp.63,65
"...Haggard is at the top of his songwriting craft here and he and the band sound good whether he is singing a love song or one of his curmudgeonly anthems..."
- 1.Big City
- 2.My Favorite Memory
- 3.Good Old American Guest
- 4.I Think I'm Gonna Live Forever
- 5.This Song Is Mine
- 6.Stop The World And Let Me Off
- 7.Are The Good Times Really Over (I Wish A Buck Was Still Silver)
- 8.Texas Fiddle Song
- 9.You Don't Have Very Far To Go
- 10.I Always Get Lucky With You
- 11.Call Me - (bonus track)
- 12.I Won't Give Up My Train - (bonus track)
Personnel: Merle Haggard (vocals, guitar); Roy Nichols (guitar, harmonica); Bobby Wayne (guitar, background vocals); Norm Hamlet (steel guitar, dobro); Tiny Moore (mandolin, fiddle); Jimmy Belkin (fiddle); Don Markham (saxophone, trumpet, horns); Slyde Hyde (trombone, euphonium); Mark Yeary (piano); Dennis Hromek (bass); Biff Adams (drums); Leona Williams (background vocals).
Producers: Lewis Talley, Merle Haggard.
Reissue producer: Al Quaglieri.
Recorded at Britainia Studios, West Hollywood, California.
Includes liner notes by Merle Haggard and Daniel Cooper.
Digitally remastered by Chris Athens (Sterling Sound, New York, New York).
This is part of Legacy's American Milestones series.
In the early '80s, Merle Haggard carved out his niche on country radio with a series of low-key, melancholy ballads. Haggard's adherence to this successful formula didn't mean that he had abandoned other facets of his music. Rather, it simply forced them onto the non-single tracks of Haggard's albums. As a result, Haggard's best Epic albums--of which BIG CITY is one--are more diverse and more interesting, if less instantly familiar, than his hits packages of the era.
The underlying themes of BIG CITY are regret, loss, and a yearning for an idealized past. These themes dominate the album's three huge hits: the title track, in which Haggard decries the grind of city life; the touching love song "My Favorite Memory" and "Are The Good Times Really Over," a bit of sociopolitical nostalgia that could have served as the theme song for the Reagan era had its underlying tone not been so negative. BIG CITY also looks toward the past with a tribute to Western swing ("Texas Fiddle Song"), a reworking of an early Haggard composition ("You Don't Have Very Far To Go"), and a cover of Johnnie and Jack's 1957 hit "Stop The World (And Let Me Off)."