Mama Tried

Merle Haggard

About Mama Tried

"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.  


Year:
1991
65 
#2

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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 my Sunday learning,
Towards the bad, I kept turning
'Til Mama couldn't hold me anymore

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

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

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

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Merle Haggard

Merle Ronald Haggard (born April 6, 1937) is an American country music song writer, singer, guitarist, fiddler and instrumentalist. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound recordings of the same era. more »

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Written by: Merle Haggard

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind


12 facts about this song

Genre Classification
"Mama Tried" is a country music song, a genre for which Merle Haggard is well known.
Writer & Performer
Merle Haggard himself wrote and recorded the song, flexing his talents as both a singer and songwriter.
Release Date
The song was released in July 1968 as the first single and title track from the album "Mama Tried".
Album Reception
The album "Mama Tried" was exceptionally well received, becoming a top 10 hit on the country album chart.
Song's Ranking
"Mama Tried" peaked at number 1 on the Billboard country singles chart.
Incarceration and Life Experiences
The song is believed to be semi-autobiographical as Haggard spent his early life in and out of correctional facilities. This influenced the lyric "I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole".
Greatest Hits Material
"Mama Tried" is one of Haggard's most covered songs and features on many of his greatest hits compilations.
Grammy Hall of Fame
In 2016, "Mama Tried" was honored by inclusion in the Grammy Hall of Fame for its historical, artistic and significant value.
Cover Versions
Several artists across genres have covered the song, including The Grateful Dead who performed it live over 300 times.
American Recording Registry
In 2016, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its cultural, historic, or artistic significance.
Country Music Association Awards
The song won the Country Music Association Awards for Single of the Year in 1968.
True Reflection of Life
The song is seen as a reflection of Haggard's early life, sharing the story of an imprisoned man who is filled with remorse because his actions caused his mother's heartache.

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