By Annie Reuter
Suzy Bogguss came to record an album of Merle Haggard classics very organically. Her first single that charted was a cover of Haggard’s “Somewhere Between” in 1988 and became a standard in her set for years. One night during sound check, Bogguss and her band were having fun playing Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down.” Putting their own spin on the track making it more bluesy, they decided on a whim to add it into their set that night and the crowd went wild. It was that moment that changed her initial idea to record an album of one or two Haggard cover songs to an entire album of his music.
Lucky, released earlier this year, includes 12 Haggard originals that Bogguss put her own personal flavor on. During the recording process, she said she learned much more about his music, specifically the thoughtfulness and intricacies of his song structure.
“Merle’s stuff is so incredibly personal,” Bogguss told Radio.com. “You believe every word he’s saying. It sounds so easy like he just sat down and it all poured out of him in a stream of consciousness but when you take apart these phrases and these eloquent lyrics you know that this is not the case. You know that he’s worked on this. He somehow crafts this song that sounds like he’s just spitting it out right now. It’s really inspirational as a songwriter, but also as a singer. I feel like I have this platform where I can swoop and soar and play with this.”
While Bogguss made each song her own, she said she didn’t take much liberty with the songs.
“It’s not like I’m taking a lot of liberties with the melody because you don’t need to. He’s written a gorgeous melody that you want to stay with and you want to tell the story within the parameters of that melody,” she said.
Lucky is available now.