Written by Merle Haggard and Dean Holloway
#1 (1 week)
April 10, 1982
You know it’s a damn good song when even a native New Yorker can enjoy Merle Haggard’s big city diss track.
And hey, New York City was pretty dirty and dangerous back in the day.
Now this song isn’t necessarily about New York City, as the northern migration of southerners looking for industrial work distributed them all over the rust belt, and New York has been more of a mecca for immigrants seeking new opportunities for their families and small town folks looking to live their lives more freely and openly.
So I get why some people come here from the south, but I can’t imagine a guy like Haggard’s “Big City” protagonist being anything but absolutely miserable. He sounds like he’d hate the sidewalks even if they were clean, and he’s clearly better suited for the wide open spaces of Montana.
As Sly Stone sang, “Different strokes for different folks.”
Regardless, urban malaise has never sounded better than it does on “Big City,” and Haggard is in peak form as a singer, songwriter, and musician on this track.
Given that I’m on record that he’s the best male artist in country music history, this is truly the best of the best.
“Big City” gets an A.
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