This one is something personal for its writer Merle Haggard. Even Don was not initially aware that it was Merle who wrote and made first recording of it in 1976. He was just drawn to the song’s message. During an interview, he remarked,
To be honest, I didn’t recall that it was one of Merle’s songs. The version that was sent to me wasn’t Merle’s recording. I thought it was a great song, a unique story from the perspective of the fellow who was watching his friend take his final walk to his death. Powerful stuff! When I was reminded that it was one of Merle’s hits, it didn’t deter me from taking a shot at it. I just thought, “What a great country song.”
I could not agree more with Don’s statement. Merle Haggard did write great songs! To his seasoned fans, they are already familiar how Merle oftentimes sings of his life and experiences. Perhaps, it was his candid honesty of his low points that attracted more fans to admire him on top of him having the knack for singing and songwriting.
To newbie fans like me, this song is nothing more than a record-breaking track of the beloved singer. To Merle, it is a lifetime testament of the friendship he forged with a fellow inmate named “Rabbit” while serving some time at the San Quentin Prison. For those not familiar with the story yet, Rabbit attempted an escape but got caught and was soon hanged for it. Imagine then the surge of emotions between these two friends as Rabbit requested Merle to play him some songs. Such an exchange would haunt your memory through the course of many years. Good for Merle, he immortalized Rabbit’s last words with Sing Me Back Home.
Won’t you sing me back home, with the song I used to hear
Make my old memories come alive
Take me away and turn back the years
Sing me back home before I die
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