Top 20 Merle Haggard Songs: Sing Me Back Home (#1)
By Four Walls
April 17, 2016 10:37am CST
And now for my number one, all-time favorite Merle Haggard song. There's nothing even close to this one in my personal taste. #1: Sing Me Back Home Set on death row, a condemned man has a final request: "sing me back home with a song I used hear, make my old memories come alive, take me away and turn back the years. Sing me back home before I die." Haggard based the song on a friend of his in San Quentin who was executed after killing a guard during an escape attempt. The picture Hag paints is vivid and somber: "the warden led a prisoner down the hallway to his doom, and I stood up to say goodbye like all the rest." That gets your attention immediately. More than a song about a prisoner asking for a final song before he meets his Maker, "Sing Me Back Home" also speaks to the incredible power of music. "Take me away and turn back the years" doesn't have to be the words from the lips of a prisoner. We've all had songs that "made our old memories come alive," whether they remind us of a departed family member, an old love, or a great vacation. So many times in my life Merle Haggard sang me back home. Here's hoping that a favorite singer or band sings you back home frequently, too. Thanks, Hag. Sing Me Back Home Written by Merle Haggard From Sing Me Back Home, 1967
• United States
17 Apr 16
I don't think Hag was glamorizing what Rabbit (the nickname of the man who inspired the song) did. There's no mention of "I'm innocent" or "this is a sham." There's no real sympathy shown for the man being executed in terms of "he didn't deserve this." Zevon had a song on his last album called "Prison Grove," where he compared being locked in a body ravaged by a terminal illness (cancer in Zevon's case) to being incarcerated. And, in the larger regard, you can look at Haggard's tribute to music and its power to relieve emotional pain, even in those who know they're dying, in a grander scale. I completely understand and agree with what you're saying, but I don't see anything in this song that glorifies the fact that the man killed a guard, nor was he arguing that the man didn't deserve what he got.
• Denver, Colorado
17 Apr 16
I liked it. You probably can help me here. I don't think it was on your list. At the country station I pulled shifts on, we played a Haggard song, one of the first lyrics is "my life has gone to Hell." I can't remember the title, but I liked it.