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Back to the Barrooms is the 31st studio album by American country singer Merle Haggard, released in October 1980. He is backed by Norm Hamlet and Don Markham of The Strangers.

Back to the Barrooms
Back to the Barrooms.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 10, 1980
RecordedJune 1980, Nashville, TN
LabelMCA 5139
ProducerJimmy Bowen
Merle Haggard chronology
The Way I Am
Back to the Barrooms
Rainbow Stew Live at Anaheim Stadium


As the title suggests, Back to the Barrooms features some of Haggard's hardest drinking songs since his early honky-tonk classics "Swinging Doors" and "The Bottle Let Me Down." "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink," his only solo #1 hit at MCA, features an extended jam unusual for a country single at the time, consisting of Larry Muhobarec on piano, Don Markham on saxophone, and Reggie Young on guitar. The self-explanatory "I Don't Want To Sober Up Tonight" and the title track are also unabashed odes to getting drunk. The single "Misery and Gin" had appeared on the soundtrack to the film Bronco Billy, in which Haggard had a cameo role, appearing as himself. A music video was also made for the song.

"Leonard" is Haggard's tribute to his friend and mentor Tommy Collins. Haggard had been recording songs written by Collins throughout his career, beginning with the novelty "Sam Hill" in 1964 and scoring a #1 single with "Carolyn" in 1971. Collins, who had never heard the song, was in the studio the day Haggard cut it and, as he tells Daniel Cooper in the liner notes to the 1994 box set Down Every Road, he was overwhelmed: "It's hard to describe how you feel when you first fall in love, it's hard to explain how you feel when you become the father of a child. It's one of those things it's hard to explain. I was very honored, and very humbled by the fact that he did that."[1] The song became a Top 10 hit.

Other notable tracks include "(I Don't Have) Any More Love Songs", which is a Hank Williams, Jr. song from his 1979 Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound, and "Can't Break the Habit," a song co-authored by Haggard and his third wife Leona Williams. Haggard and Williams, who married in 1978, began having troubles around this time and their divorce would begin Haggard's long descent into alcoholism and cocaine addiction.[citation needed]

"Easy Come, Easy Go" is a cover of a song by The Sutherland Brothers from their 1979 album, When the Night Comes Down.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic      [2]

The LP was released in October 1980 and reached number 8 on the Billboard country albums chart. Thom Jurek of AllMusic insists that Back to the Barrooms "is really about is the wreckage caused by broken amorous relationships and boozy escape as the only way to cope." Calling it his strongest album on MCA, Jurek compliments Jimmy Bowen's "progressive country style" and calls it Haggard's "most consistent, inspiring performance since he left Capitol, and was the beginning of a creative renaissance, though the personal toll it took on him would prove considerable."[2]

Track listingEdit

All tracks composed by Merle Haggard; except where indicated

  1. "Misery and Gin" (John Durrill, Snuff Garrett) – 2:50
  2. "Back to the Barrooms Again" (Merle Haggard, Dave Kirby) – 2:34
  3. "Make-Up and Faded Blue Jeans" – 4:05
  4. "Ever-Changing Woman" (Dave Kirby, Curly Putman) – 2:28
  5. "Easy Come, Easy Go" (Iain Sutherland) – 3:32
  6. "I Don't Want to Sober Up Tonight" – 3:30
  7. "Can't Break the Habit" (Merle Haggard, Leona Williams) – 3:04
  8. "Our Paths May Never Cross" – 2:44
  9. "I Don't Have Any More Love Songs" (Hank Williams, Jr.) – 3:04
  10. "Leonard" – 3:39
  11. "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" – 4:31


Production notesEdit

  • Produced by Jimmy Bowen, Snuff Garrett
  • Engineered by Grover Helsley, Jimmy Bowen, Ron Treat

Chart performanceEdit

Chart (1980) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 8


  1. ^ Down Every Road 1962–1994 compilation album. Liner notes by Daniel Cooper
  2. ^ a b Jurek, Thom. "Back to the Barrooms > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved July 2, 2011.