Sunday, May 1, 2011

Aural Massage - Merle Haggard - I Can't Be Myself (1970)

Originally released as a 1970 single, and found on Merle Haggard’s 1971 album “Hag”, “I Can’t Be Myself” is a fine example of the power of song writing.  The refreshing lack of ambiguity in the lyric, there from the first line: “It's a way of mine to say just what I'm thinking” is matched by a simple tune and structure and all the more striking for it.

Then there's the glorious raised note in the refrain “I can't be myself and be what pleases you” where Hag’s emotional vulnerability (a common theme in all of his greatest songs) draws the listener in, so that when he reaches his conclusion: “I don't believe that you want me to” there’s little doubt about the outcome of the relationship.  This tune is a perfect example of a songwriter free from the often sentimental confines of country music, working things out in his craft, and enriching our lives at the same time.

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