My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Classic Rewind: Merle Haggard’s tribute to Elvis – ‘From Graceland To The Promised Land’

3 responses to “Classic Rewind: Merle Haggard’s tribute to Elvis – ‘From Graceland To The Promised Land’

  1. Paul W Dennis October 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    The single (and best song) from Merle’s worst album. It’s not that the album is terrible, because it isn’t, but Merle has no affinity for the songs of Elvis Presley. It is the one Haggard album that I never play – I listened to it a few times when I first purchased it, wanting to like the album, but other than the single, there was nothing about the album tohold my interest

    • Razor X October 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      I haven’t heard the album but it does seem like a bit of a stretch for Merle. Pretty cool to see Porter Wagoner singing background vocals in this clip, though.

  2. Ken Johnson October 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    During the fall of 1977 when I first learned that Merle was recording an Elvis tribute song as part of an entire album of Elvis songs I was rather surprised. Knowing Hag’s self confessed appreciation for the music of Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills both of those earlier tribute albums made perfect sense. But I was not aware that Hag possessed any exceptional passion for the music of Elvis Presley. He had never indicated a connection to Elvis’ music in any of his interviews nor had he previously recorded any of the songs popularized by the late King Of Rock & Roll. Hag’s straight ahead country music never included even a hint of rockabilly or rock & roll influence. It just wasn’t in his DNA. It seemed rather odd for Merle Haggard to be releasing an album for purely commercial reasons to capitalize on Elvis’ recent death but that was my sad conclusion. Nevertheless “From Graceland To The Promised Land” was one of the best single record tributes released that fall amidst the avalanche of 45 RPM recordings honoring Elvis from both known and unknown singers. The clever title line and the biographically accurate lyrics offered a classy tribute to the King.

    For the “My Farewell To Elvis” album Haggard seemed far more comfortable with the ballads than the tempo-driven songs on the album. Hag never sounded more ill-at-ease than singing “Blue Suede Shoes.” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Don’t Be Cruel.” Hag’s versions of “Love Me Tender” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” fit his style much better. Next to the title track my favorite cut is ”Blue Christmas.” I’ll bet that while he was recording it Merle likely had Ernest Tubb in mind rather than Elvis. The arrangement was completely country with no hint of Elvis’ edgy 1957 version. I recommend it for any country Christmas CD mix.

    That album was briefly re-released as a budget CD in 1995 for MCA Special Products (MCAD-22183) It is an interesting album to hear but as Paul aptly stated you probably wouldn’t return to it for repeated plays.

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