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Merle Haggard

Hag's Christmas

(Capitol; US: 18 Sep 2007; UK: Available as import)

If a Christmas album is supposed to get you in the spirit for the holidays, then Hag’s Christmas, originally released in 1973, is probably a failure. It’s got plenty Christmas classics, from “Jingle Bells” to “Silver Bells” to “Winter Wonderland”. There’s even originals like “Grandma’s Homemade Christmas Card” and “Santa Claus and Popcorn” to keep the mood light, for a while. For all the honest-to-goodness joy Merle puts into those songs, there are plenty of sad tracks to counter all that yuletide fun. Even the cutely titled “Bobby Wants a Puppy for Christmas” reveals itself to be a song about a kid sadder than any cowboy you ever heard about, who thinks a puppy is the only way to solve his problem. And of course there’s the wayward “Daddy Won’t Be Home Again for Christmas” where the title dad apologizes and hopes that the check he sends will take his place, which of course it won’t. Another sad number “If We Make it Through December” isn’t even a holiday song at all, but a typically great lovelorn country ballad. Merle’s performances are solid, if a little cheesy, but definitely lack the holiday cheer many may be looking for. Of course, if you hate the holidays, and you want something to drown out the sound of relatives fighting over fruit cake and egg nog, then Hag’s Christmas is for you.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


Tagged as: merle haggard
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