DVD Review: Merle Haggard’s outlaw spirit lives on – Vail, CO | VailDaily.com

DVD Review: Merle Haggard’s outlaw spirit lives on – Vail, CO

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado ” For all his rebel-outlaw reputation, Merle Haggard seems pretty tame and subdued in the collected performances found on “Merle Haggard,” part of the Legendary Performances DVD series from Shout Factory.

Because of the times, namely the early-to-late ’60s, most of Haggard’s performances documented on the video are from variety shows like “Billy Walker’s Country Carnival” and “The Porter Wagoner Show,” which lends to stiff footage of him making little movement on stage in front of a backup band. But when he looks into the camera, you can see all his inner-turmoil and rebel spirit.

Of course Haggard had like a gazillion number one hits throughout his career and only some of them are featured on the DVD. “Branded Man,” “Okie From Muskogee” and “Workin’ Man Blues” all show up here along with many others ” 15 in all.

Watching Haggard go from clean-cut gentleman in the ’60s to a Wolverine look-alike in the ’70s to sweater-wearing cowboy in the ’80s is kind of funny and as he grows older, you can hear the maturity in his music. A career that began with simple country music songs and Haggard playing rhythm guitar and singing hard-boiled lyrics later blooms into layered arrangements and Haggard on lead guitar and fiddle.

Appearances by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris, as well as a bonus interview with Haggard and footage from his Country Music Hall of Fame induction, round out a stellar if not brief look at this legend’s career.

3 stars out of 4

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