Merle Haggard was first influenced by country music patriarchs Jimmie Rodgers and Lefty Frizzell. At age 15, Merle won a talent contest in Modesto, California. The following year, young Merle had a chance to perform on stage with one of those heroes, the great Lefty Frizzell. Merle Haggards humble beginnings, wild ways, prison time served in San Quentin, and early parole for good behavior, have now grown into legend. Merles legendary status was re-emphasized in 1994 when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. It was a crowning touch to his already award-laden career. Over the years, a number of country music stars have emerged as great singers of story songs. Names such as Marty Robbins, Tommy Collins, Porter Wagoner and Red Sovine are stand-outs. On this collection, Merle Haggard showcases his formidable talents as a great singer of story songs. These are the songs that place him among the best in the business. In fact, it may be Merles real-life experiences that set him above the other great country music storytellers. Songs such as Branded Man or Mama Tried ring so true to his own lifes story, that the songs spring to life in the hearts and minds of anyone who hears them. Seven of the songs on this collection were actually written by Merle, a prolific songwriter in his own right. Merle Haggard has the ability to make us feel like we are standing in his shoes - a rare talent indeed. That is also what makes him one the best singers of story songs of our time.