Merle Haggard – Mama Tried

100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time. Released in July 1968, Mama Tried was Merle Haggard and The Strangers fifth No. 1 song on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in August. The song spent four weeks at No. 1, and was his biggest hit to that time.

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Cover LP Mama Tried Capitol 1968
Cover LP Mama Tried Capitol 1968

“Mama Tried” is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard and The Strangers. It was released in July 1968 as the first single and title track from the album Mama Tried. The song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career. It won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, and was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its “cultural, historic, or artistic significance” on March 23, 2016, just 14 days before Haggard’s death.

Released in July 1968, Mama Tried was Merle Haggard and The Strangers fifth No. 1 song on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in August. The song spent four weeks at No. 1, and was his biggest hit to that time.

Cover Single Mama Tried Capitol 1968
Cover Single Mama Tried Capitol 1968

B-side “You’ll Never Love Me Now”
Released July 22, 1968
Recorded May 9, 1968
Genre Country
Length 2:12
Label Capitol
Songwriter(s) Merle Haggard
Producer(s) Ken Nelson

 

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried lyrics

[Verse 1]
The first thing I remember knowing
Was a lonesome whistle blowing
And a young’un’s dream of growing up to ride
On a freight train leaving town
Not knowing where I’m bound
And no one could change my mind but mama tried
One and only rebel child
From a family meek and mild
My mama seemed to know what lay in store
Despite all my Sunday learning
Towards the bad I kept on turning
‘Til mama couldn’t hold me anymore

[Chorus]
And I turned twenty-one in prison doing 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

[Verse 2]
Dear old daddy, rest his soul
Left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Working hours without rest
Wanted me to have the best
She tried to raise me right but I refused
[Chorus]
And I turned twenty-one in prison doing 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

Single Mama Tried Capitol 1968
Single Mama Tried Capitol 1968

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