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Merle Haggard performs "Big City"

Merle Haggard performs "Big City"

The song was inspired by a remark by Dean Holloway, Haggard's lifelong friend and tour bus driver. At the end of a packed two-day recording session at Britannia Studios in Los Angeles, Haggard went to the bus to check on Holloway, who had been minding the bus, and asked him how he was doing. Holloway responded, "I hate this place. I'm tired of this dirty old city." Haggard immediately saw inspiration, and began writing the song, based on Holloway's remark, on a nearby pad of paper. "I'm tired of this dirty old city" became the song's first line. Haggard decided that the chorus should include the narrator talking about moving elsewhere, and asked Holloway where he would rather be, to which Holloway responded, "If it were up to me, it'd be somewhere in the middle of damn Montana." "Somewhere in the middle of Montana" became part of the chorus. Haggard rushed back into the studio, where the band was packing up, and told them to unpack their instruments in order to record one last song; the band recorded the song in one take, with no rehearsal.

Haggard credited Holloway as a co-writer, entitling him to half the royalties for the song, which amounted to around half a million dollars for Holloway

Merle Haggard - Big City lyrics

 

I'm tired of this dirty old city 

And tired of too much work 

And never enough play

And I'm tired of these dirty old sidewalks 

Think I'll walk off my steady job today

Turn me loose, set me free 

Somewhere in the middle of Montana

And give me all I've got coming to me

And keep your retirement

And your so-called Social Security

Big city turn me loose and set me free

Been working everyday since I was twenty

Haven't got a thing to show 

For anything I've done

There's folks who never work and they've got plenty

Think it's time some guys like me had some fun, so

Turn me loose, set me free 

Somewhere in the middle of Montana

And give me all I've got coming to me

And keep your retirement 

And your so-called Social Security

Big city turn me loose and set me free

Hey, big city, turn me loose and set me free


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