Over the last ten weekdays of 2010 Up On The Sun will be counting down the best live shows of 2010.
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Today we look at the #9 show of the year, outlaw country legend Merle Haggard at Mesa Arts Center.
Show: Merle Haggard at Mesa Arts Center
Date: Sunday, May 9, 2010
Background: Merle had to reschedule this show after a health scare -- he had lung cancer that's in remission -- but it was worth the wait. Somehow, The Hag managed to cram plenty of his old hits and a few gems from his excellent new record, I Am What I Am, into only an hour or so.
Why is stood out: There were a lot of great country shows this year -- George Strait's night at US Airways springs immediately to mind -- but this one separates from the pack because it really felt like a special, fleeting moment. Hopefully, The Hag spins around the country a bunch of times in the coming years but given that he's lived a rough 73 years and many of his contemporaries have passed on, I'm very glad I got the chance to see him perform.
Someone else said: "The documentary, Merle Haggard: Learning to Live with Myself, portrays a man trying to come to terms with a life that took him from a train-hopping delinquent to an ex-con to a country music superstar, thanks to hits like "Mama Tried" and "Okie from Muskogee." Haggard has always been a deeply personal songwriter, re-working the major events of his life -- his father's early death, his hardscrabble childhood, the years he spent in San Quentin -- again and again in his songs. And in the PBS film he's surprisingly emotional -- more tortured poet than rabble-rousing tough guy." -The Wall Street Journal on the Haggard documentary that came out around the same time as the show.
Read the full review here.