In “Mama Tried,” country singer Merle Haggard focuses on the suffering he caused his own mother by being incarcerated in 1957. However, the song is not a resemblance to the singer’s life and experiences because they were different from the man being portrayed in the song. It may not be the exact same thing but there was still something that the singer could relate to in the song.
Behind Merle Haggard’s Hit “Mama Tried”
The song is written and recorded by the country singer Merle Haggard himself along with the Strangers. It was released in July 1968 as the first single and title track from his album Mama Tried and it was received well by the critics. The song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career because it won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.
“Mama Tried” was also selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its “cultural, historical, or artistic significance” back on March 23, 2016. Unfortunately, this happened just 14 days before Haggard’s death.
And I turned twenty-one in prison doin’ life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried
The song is quintessential to Merle Haggard, it’s where his outlaw country vibes really show. He knows that he did not listen to his mother even though she really tried. Aren’t we all like that? We are to blame for our faults because we are responsible for the things we do especially if we are a grown adult already.
If there is one thing we could learn from the song, it is that we should always listen to our parents because they always want what is best for us. They will not put us into a situation that will endanger ourselves.
Listen to Merle Haggard’s song here: