There is no denying that Merle Haggard’s discography is filled with hit song after hit song, ones that cover all the emotions. It is as well-rounded as a file house we have in country music.
One of my all-time favorite Merle Haggard tunes is “Misery & Gin,” which he released as a single in 1980.
Written by Snuff Garrett and John Durrill for the movie, Bronco Billy, it appeared on Merle’s Back To The Barrooms album. The tune hit the charts with full force that year, landing number three on the Billboard US Hot Country Songs chart.
This song is about the tried and true topic of misery loves company, and there is no better company than a stiff drink.
The final line in this song’s chorus highlights a feeling everyone knows too well… trying to act like you’re thriving when really you feel like you’re dying.
The single alone is fantastic, BUT Haggard’s ACL performance of the tune is jaw-dropping.
The low-toned vocals are nailed on live television, which is impressive enough, but Haggards delivers the lyrics with such conviction that you will want to watch it repeatedly.
It’s the perfect performance of a “sad country song that makes you happy” in my eyes.
By the end of the video, you will be holding up your beer and singing along at the end for the final chorus of:
“But here I am again, mixing misery and gin Sitting with all my friends and talking to myself I look like I’m having a good time, but any fool can tell That this honky-tonk heaven really makes you feel like hell…”
Thank goodness for Merle Haggard and Austin City Limits archives.