The Story Behind The Song: “Big City” – Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard rarely got enthused about any of his album projects. He always claimed that he wasn’t really trying very hard to turn out a good record, that whatever happened, good or bad, was all the same to him. But the “Big City” project was different for some reason. Maybe it was because of his brand new association with Epic Records, after many years at Capitol. “Big City” would be the debut album for his new label, and perhaps he was trying to make a good impression. Whatever the reason, Haggard always spoke very highly of the “Big City” album project, saying that he was very proud of it. The record took about two years to write and refine, and oddly enough, the title track was one of the last songs added to it.

Longtime friend Dean Holloway accompanied Merle to Britannia Studios in West Hollywood for several of the sessions that would make up the “Big City” album. Holloway became totally disgusted with the Los Angeles area, complaining to Haggard about, among other things, the “dirty sidewalks of the big city.” That’s all it took to pique Merle’s creative juices. He took note of that line, and off he went writing what would turn out to be the title track for the album, finishing “Big City” in just twenty minutes.

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