Merle Haggard: Learning to Live with Myself

Courtesy Capitol Records

“I’m living proof that things go wrong in America and I’m also living proof that things can go right.” — Merle Haggard

Director: Gandulf Hennig
Year: 2010
Country: Germany, USA
Running time: 83 mins
Genres: Music

Producers: Gandulf Hennig, Alfred Holighaus
Photography: Matthew Dyer, Gandulf Hennig, Elia Lyssy, Roger Pistole
Editor: Dava Whisenant
Music: Merle Haggard

With: Merle Haggard, Dave Alvin, John Carter Cash, Robert Duvall, John Fogerty, Billy Gibbons, George Jones, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Keith Richards, Don Was, Dwight Yoakam

Festivals: Melbourne 2010

Forever pegged either side of the red/blue divide as the man who penned the ageless anti-hippie anthem ‘Okie from Muskogee’, country and western legend Merle Haggard has set many a home truth to music. Turning to crime after the early death of his father, Haggard says seeing Johnny Cash perform in San Quentin prison was the epiphany that changed his life. He is a fascinating and forthright subject in this American Masters portrait, filmed over three years by German Nashville historian/fan Gandulf Hennig, who attended the Festival with his Gram Parsons doco in 2005. — BG

“Hennig’s documentary rings as strong and true as Merle’s own songs. That’s high praise… Learning to Live with Myself talks to just about everyone in the music and Merle’s worlds, from Keith Richards and John Fogerty to Marty Stuart, George Jones and all of Merle’s wives, past and present. At the center, it finds a restless man, still seemingly not quite at home anywhere, musing how ‘I won’t be satisfied until I write that one song that will live forever’.” — David Hinckley, NY Daily News