If I Could Only Fly

( 1 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Schinder
As Merle Haggard -- whose emotionally complex blend of reality-based grit and country tradition makes him the most significant country recording artist since Hank Williams -- has become increasingly unfashionable in the slick commercial country mainstream, he's been embraced by rock hipsters, who obviously recognize a kindred spirit in this stubborn, hard-to-pin-down rugged individualist. So it's fitting that Haggard has signed with Anti, an arm of the savvy L.A. punk indie Epitaph which in 1999 added fellow iconoclast Tom Waits to its roster. Haggard's debut for the label, If I Could Only Fly, is neither a self-conscious effort to recapture past glories or a blatant ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Schinder
As Merle Haggard -- whose emotionally complex blend of reality-based grit and country tradition makes him the most significant country recording artist since Hank Williams -- has become increasingly unfashionable in the slick commercial country mainstream, he's been embraced by rock hipsters, who obviously recognize a kindred spirit in this stubborn, hard-to-pin-down rugged individualist. So it's fitting that Haggard has signed with Anti, an arm of the savvy L.A. punk indie Epitaph which in 1999 added fellow iconoclast Tom Waits to its roster. Haggard's debut for the label, If I Could Only Fly, is neither a self-conscious effort to recapture past glories or a blatant attempt to pander to a rock audience. Instead, it's an understated but unmistakably powerful collection that finds a relaxed Haggard delivering memorable tunes and hard-won lyrical insights with a minimum of fuss, singing as soulfully as ever on a set of mostly self-penned tunes that find Haggard looking back on his past travails with a graceful sense of personal acceptance that's particulary affecting coming from this eternally restless maverick. The songs encompass bucolic evocations of familial love "Think About a Lullaby," "Leavin's Getting Harder" and lusty, good-natured western swing "Bareback," "Proud to Be Your Old Man", while "Wishing All These Old Things Were New Again," "Thanks to Uncle John," and the heartbreaking title number find the artist in a wistful, reflective mood. Like the rest of the album, those songs embody a sense of hope while maintaining an undercurrent of uneasiness that makes it clear that the 63-year-old artist still has no intention of going quietly into that good night.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
For all the '90s, Merle Haggard was stuck in a kind of exile, recording albums that were strangely perched between familiar Haggard material and futile compromises to a modern country radio that would never play material from veterans. Hag knew that he hadn't lost it, so when he finally ran out his contract for Curb, he smartly signed to Anti-, a subsidiary of the indie punk label Epitaph. Finally at a label that would let him record a traditional Haggard album, he seized the opportunity with If I Could Only Fly, a gentle, understated, largely acoustic album that's easily his best in over a decade. It's easy to draw comparisons to Johnny Cash's Rick Rubin-produced American Music, but this is actually a better fit, since nothing here is forced. There's no mention of his wild ways or outlaw posturing; instead he, dwells on being old, not wanting to leave home, and writes frequently about his family. This is not sad and melancholy, it's a sweet, soothing record, filled with intimately autobiographical songs, delivered with ease and subtle shading through Haggard's always superb vocalizing. If I Could Fly benefits considerably from its sheer, warm musicality, and it's easy to be charmed by its stripped-back, organic sound. It sounds so good that it's also easy to overlook that the album is shy a couple of great songs it needed to be an unqualified triumph. Only the sublime "Wishing All These Old Things Were New," "If I Could Only Fly," and "Listening To the Wind" are truly significant additions to Haggard's canon. Ultimately, that may be a bit of nitpicking -- If I Could Only Fly is the first album in years that deserves to be compared to Haggard's classic work.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
...it's a low-keyed, assured session imbued with Hag¹s mellowed delivery and trademark restlessness (the luminous title track), sentimentality, and horniness.

...it's a low-keyed, assured session imbued with Hag¹s mellowed delivery and trademark restlessness (the luminous title track), sentimentality, and horniness.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/17/2000
  • Label: Epitaph / Ada
  • UPC: 045778659340
  • Catalog Number: 86593

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Merle Haggard Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Biff Adam Drums
Eddie Curtis Bass
Floyd Domino Piano
Norm Hamlet Steel Guitar
Joe Manuel Guitar
Don Markham Saxophone, Vocal Harmony
Redd Volkaert Guitar
Randy Mason Guitar
Abe Manuel Jr. Fiddle, Guitar, Mandolin, Percussion, Piano, Accordion, Harp, Vocal Harmony
Oleg Schramm Piano
Technical Credits
Merle Haggard Composer
Blaze Foley Composer
Lou Bradley Engineer
Johnny Whiteside Liner Notes
Jesse Fischer Art Direction
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The Hag is back in a big way!!

    I have been listening to Merle Haggard for more years than I care to say but I have to tell you that this CD is the best I've heard in over a decade! Very upbeat! I'm just glad to heard a ''happy tone'' in his music again. Well worth picking up. You'll find yourself pleasantly suprise!

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews