“My Favorite Memory”
Written by Merle Haggard
#1 (1 week)
November 28, 1981
The Back to the Barrooms album was an indication that Merle Haggard was entering another creative high point in his lengthy career. After the top five “Misery and Gin” and the number one classic, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” the album produced an additional top ten hit in “Leonard.” Haggard finished his brief run at MCA with the live album Rainbow Stew, which produced the top five title track.
Joining the Epic roster, Haggard previewed his landmark Big City album with an unassuming lead single that has been overshadowed by the album’s other releases, but it is a damn fine record in its own right. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being country music’s closest thing to Bob Dylan. Perhaps because Haggard is also such an excellent singer and interpreter of other writer’s material, it’s easy to take his songwriting prowess for granted.
“My Favorite Memory” showcases how his writing is both poetic and efficient. The brevity serves to highlight the beauty of his words. With an opening verse and chorus this beautifully written, not much more needs to be said:
The first time we met
Is a favorite memory of mine
They say time changes all it pertains to
But your memory is stronger than time
I guess everything does change
Except what you choose to recall
There’s a million good daydreams to dream on
But baby, you are my favorite memory of all
This kicks off a string of flawless singles from Big City. The title track is up next, and we’ll cover it early on in 1982.
“My Favorite Memory” gets an A.
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This is such a great track and absolutely one of Merle’s best. It says so much in so few words. I actually first heard of it long before I heard it as a song – I recently got a Merle CD with it on, the Essential collection. But before that, I had always loved a lot of George Jones’ duets with ladies (and gents) and one of them is called Best Friends with Leona Williams, and it has the lines:
I heard you left Haggard, I knew by the words in his song.
And you’re wondering if you’re right sittin’ at home all alone.
But I know you still love him ’cause you’re always there when he calls.
And always remember that you’re his favorite memory of all.
So when I heard the song for the first time, I knew what it was from. I love that kind of… musical conversation, I guess is a/the term? It’s one of the reasons I like songs like “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” and “Like I Love Country Music”, too.
I love all three single’s released on Merle’s “Big City” album and consider them classics along with the album itself. Merle Haggard is my favorite country artist and think he had three classic decades 60’s through the 80’s with singles and albums. Personally I don’t think he ever recorded a bad album but the 80’s tend to get overlooked over the 60’s and 70’s but Merle was still pumping out all time classics on a regular basis and classic records. I think he stayed in the mid tempo grove a lot during this period but he was a phenomenal singer that it didn’t really matter. We still have classic singles coming up.
I’ll go to bat for Haggard’s two ’90’s albums on Curb and his under-appreciated output in the 2000’s. Haggard stands alone. He was a towering talent.
Today, I say he is the greatest artist country music has ever known.
“My Favourite Memory” is an achingly tender and beautiful song. A beautiful economy of words and sentiment.
I forget this run of Haggard classics landed in the ’80’s.