Merle Haggard’s First-Ever Recording Surfaces

Bluegrass Today

Fresh out of San Quentin prison in 1960, a young man named Merle Haggard took off on a quest to turn his life around. He started off digging ditches, but what he really wanted to do was sing country music.  

As you all know, Haggard went on to become one of the most highly-respected country music artists in history. Praised as a singer, songwriter, and musician, many credit Haggard with inspiring them to pursue their own careers in country music.

Over the course of his own career, Haggard accumulated a total of 38 number one country hits. Several of those songs were crossover success stories, and topped the pop chart as well.

But such stardom didn’t come to Haggard right away. His first deal was with Tally Records, and he ended up recording his first song through them. That song, called “Singin’ My Heart Out,” was released in 1962. However, it did nothing to help jump-start Haggard’s career. 

“Singin’ My Heart Out” was a major failure for Haggard. So much in fact, that only 200 copies of the song were pressed. Luckily, only two more years passed before he scored his first national hit with “Sing a Sad Song.”

Since barely any copies were made of “Singin’ My Heat Out,” it’s extremely rare to come across the song. But after years in hiding, an audio track of the recording finally surfaced on YouTube. 

The song has similarities to the popular country music of the period, but still contains Haggard’s own stamp. At the time, the Bakersfield Sound that Haggard is credited with helping to develop was in its early stages of forming. “Singin’ My Heart Out” angled more in that direction than the Nashville Sound material, establishing Haggard as a one-of-a-kind artist in the industry.

It’s a shame that “Singin’ My Heart Out” didn’t hit for Haggard. Thankfully, the passage of time has led to a greater appreciation of the song.

Tune in below to listen to the rare audio of Haggard’s first-ever recording, “Singin’ My Heart Out.” What a gem!

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