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My House of Memories
For The Record
By Merle Haggard with Tom Carter
HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
1999
259 Pages
ISBN:  0-06-019308-5

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COUNTRY MUSIC'S AWARD-WINNING and BESTSELLING recording artist, Merle Haggard brings us his long awaited_new autobiography, Merle Haggard's My House of Memories- a riveting account of Haggard's extremely turbulent and successful life. Picking up where his 1992 autobiography, Sing Me Home left off, Haggard recounts his earliest childhood memories, revealing-previously untold stories about his birth and troubled upbringing in a converted railroad boxcar. He recalls the innocence of the 1950s, when a boy could safely ride the rails with hobos and share their transient camps. He talks about his father's death when Merle was nine and how his childish disobedience soon erupted into full-blown delinquency.

In a thrilling narrative, he takes us on several high speed getaways from the California law and straight inside the state's homes for the criminally delinquent. On his nineteenth birthday we follow him inside San Quentin and read a chilling account about a cell mate who begs Merle to join him in an escape that ultimately ends with the man's death. Haggard also recalls his befriending of Caryl Chessman, the notorious 1950s serial rapist and the time they shared before Chessman's execution.

Having lived a life marked by violence, gambling. and drugs, Merle shares the lessons he learned and how he continues to pay for decades of reckless living. He discloses that after earning more than a hundred million dollars, he's virtually broke. Merle reflects on how he felt at that bittersweet hour seven years ago, as he stood at his wife's bedside during the delivery of their son and was served bankruptcy papers. And he recalls his family's move into a house so decayed that cattle literally roamed, inside. He still lives there, amid improvements. today.

Haggard relives the painful memory of the death of his mother, who a year earlier, unbeknownst to him had written her life story in longhand. He reveals his astonishment at learning of her 1906 covered-wagon journey at age four, from Arkansas to Oklahoma. And how she had to live underground in an earthen dugout. Merle had never known of his mother's life in the southwest and the fears and hardships she face.

As one of the industry's most respected artists, Merle Haggard still makes music for music's sake and_does it with the enthusiasm of an apprentice. He plays several hours a day, every day, on and off the stage and speaks of the emotional salvation the eight notes of the musical scale afford him.

My House of Memories captures the triumph of the human spirit, through the power of persistence, through the power of love he finally discovered during his fifth marriage, and through the unsurpassed joy of reentering fatherhood at age fifty-four. It is an exciting and moving account of the tumultuous life of a songwriter, singer, guitarist and arranger whose words have earned him international renown as the poet of the common man.

MERLE HAGGARD is the author of Sing Me Back Home. He has recorded forty-one number one hits.

TOM CARTER is a Nashville journalist who has collaborated on auto-biographies of major country superstars including Glen Campbell, Ralph Emery, Reba McIntire and George Jones.