Merle Haggard performs “Big City” Live from Austin TX.

Arrived at number # 1 of the lists of US Hot Country Songs and stayed during 19 weeks in the charts. Also it arrived at number # 1 of the lists of Canadian RPM Country Tracks. It was the thirtieth number one of Haggard's career.

YouTube sc lawman Channel
YouTube sc lawman Channel

Big City:

Lp cover Merle Haggard ( Epic 1981 )
Lp cover Merle Haggard ( Epic 1981 )

Song written by Merle Haggard and Dean Holloway, was recorded by Merle Haggard on July 7, 1981, at Britannia Studios, 3249 Chaguenha Blvd., Hollywood, CA, Merle was accompanied on the recording by Roy Nichols (lead guitar & harmonica), Bobby Wayne (rhythm guitar & vocal), Norman Hamlet (steel & dobro), Dennis Hromek (bass), Biff Adam (drums), Tiny Moore (fiddle & mandolin), Jimmy Belkin (fiddle), Mark Yeary (piano), Don Markham (trumpet, horn & sax), Hyde Slyde (trombone, euphonium & vocals) and Nashville String Machine. With the production of Lewis Talley and Merle Haggard. The song was released on January 11, 1982. On April 10, 1982, arrived at number # 1 of the lists of US Hot Country Songs and stayed during 19 weeks in the charts. On April 17, 1982, also it arrived at number # 1 of the lists of Canadian RPM Country Tracks. It was the thirtieth number one of Haggard’s career.

The song was included in the thirty-third Merle studio album, Big city (Epic 1981), the album was released in October 1981, on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums, reached number # 3. The album was certified gold record, in the USA.

Between 6-7 November 2006, Haggard recorded a new version of Big City, bluegrass style, in Hendersonville, TN, The Bluegrass Sessions (McCoury Music 2007).

Story behind the song:

Cd cover Merle Haggard ( McCoury Music 2007 )
Cd cover Merle Haggard ( McCoury Music 2007 )

Merle was inspired by a comment made by Dean Holloway, Haggard’s lifelong friend and driver of a tour bus. After two consecutive days of recording, at the Britannia studios in Los Angeles, while the musicians began to pick up the instruments to go, Haggard went to see Dean, who was taking care of the bus, Haggard asked him how he was, and Dean replied: I’m tired of this dirty old city. Haggard immediately saw the inspiration and started to write the song, based on Dean’s comment, Merle picked up a notebook and started writing the first sentence of the song, I’m tired of this dirty old city …. Haggard decided that the chorus should include the narrator talking about moving to another place and asking Holloway where he would prefer to be, to which Holloway replied: “If it were up to me, it would be somewhere in the middle of damned Montana.” He came back quickly to the studio , where the musicians were just packing the instruments, Haggard said: unpack the instruments that you have to record one more song, the band recorded the song in one shot, without rehearsal.

Some Versions:

Cal Smith 1983 (51 West Records)
Iris DeMent 1994 (Warner Bros.)
The Ken Saydak Band 2001 (Delmark)
Lance Birrell 2017 (LBM)

Merle Haggard – Big City Lyrics

I’m tired of this dirty old city
Entirely too much work and never enough play
And I’m tired of these dirty old sidewalks
Think I’ll walk off my steady job today

Turn me loose, set me free
Somewhere in the middle of Montana
And give me all I’ve got comin’ to me
And keep your retirement
And your so called social security
Big city, turn me loose and set me free

Been working everyday since I was twenty
Haven’t got a thing to show for anything I’ve done
There’s folks who never work and they’ve got plenty
Think it’s time some guys like me had some fun

So, turn me loose, set me free
Somewhere in the middle of Montana
And give me all I’ve got comin’ to me
And keep your retirement
And your so called social security
Big city, turn me loose and set me free
Hey big city, turn me loose and set me free

Single Merle Haggard ( Epic 1981 )
Single Merle Haggard ( Epic 1981 )

Miquel Batlle
djmiquel@whenthecowboysings.net