July 22nd, 2010
Watch the Full Film

“I’m living proof that things go wrong in America and I’m also living proof that things can go right,” says Merle Haggard. In Merle Haggard: Learning to Live with Myself, American Masters’ candid documentary about the country music legend, who is often called “the poet of the common man,” tells it like it is. The film features interviews with comrades and fellow musicians including Robert Duvall, John Fogerty, Billy Gibbons, Kris Kristofferson, Keith Richards, Tanya Tucker, Don Was, and Dwight Yoakam, among others. The hardscrabble people with whom he was raised – his juvenile delinquency and incarcerations – still inform his creativity and perspective. Hailed as “country music’s Frank Sinatra” in a recent review of his latest release I AM WHAT I AM (Vanguard Records), American Masters celebrates this “Lonesome Fugitive” in Merle Haggard: Learning to Live with Myself.

  • Alan

    Although I am not a fan of country music this man’s life began like mine. I too rode the rails at the age of 9 and spent time in Preston School of Industry in 1968-69. I also stopped in and had lunch in San Quentin just after Johnny Cash played there in 69 while riding the prison bus with adult prisoners. His reflections on this period in his life were obviously moving to me. His comments on his tattoo and his bus accommodations were revealing. This was a very well put together piece and I can also appreciate his present day concerns for his family. As always he is in touch with the common man in a very uncommon way.

  • Doug Wilson

    Truly, a Song Writing Master. He’s channeling….

  • Ruth Williams

    I believe this program (Merle Haggard) needs to be shown again and again. It’s far too revealing of the American life to be a one time, or sometime, program.

    Congrats to everyone involved in this truly moving and profound program…my gratitude to Mr. Haggard for all the wonderful feelings and memories he has brought into our lives.


  • Karen E

    A very moving story. He has been a favorite for many generations in my family. What a loving family he has and what peace that must bring him. Way to go Merle Haggard!!!! I hope he understands that he really brings peace to those who listen to his music.

  • Jack

    This was a wondeful piece of work. It gave those of us who have been touched my Merle’s music a great look inside the man himself. I lost my dad when I was 8, and although I was not of the depression era, I could always relate to the songs.

  • Johnny Braxton

    What an awesome interview, Haggard is truly an Icon I hope they will do more coverage on him

  • Sandy Moon

    This is to Treasa and Merle It’s been along time since we’ve seen each other how is Deanro I didn’t hear you mention him. I missed the first hour but will watch it again. It looks like your happy you two. I was the friend of R.S. webber falls.Write back if you wish It brought back alot of memories waching the documentery. Take Care both of you Sandy

  • Gary Lackey

    Quite possibly the greatest man to ever sing a country song. To come from such humble beginings and such a stormy youth to the absolute pinnacle of country music. When in history can one man be sentenced to prison by his peers in one decade and voted the man of the decade by his peers in another.
    Most importantly he lived to be old enough to be an incredible influence on singers and song writers of today and for countless generations to follow.

  • Harper

    A true legend. I’ve been listening to his music for almost 50 years. Tells it like it is. Too bad we don’t have more like him.

  • ken vetter

    how can i buy a dvd of haggard pbs show 7/21/10 ??

  • Kathy Hempler

    I would love to watch this again. I missed part of it. I know lots of people who would love to see it again.
    Such an amazing artist. We love you Merle!!

  • Lee Blume

    A great documentry….

  • Mattie

    A very moving piece of this Man’s Life, Merle Haggard. He showed that life can go on and you can be what you want yourself to be, even though you suffered terrible hardships. Pray.

  • marco

    Today I started digging Merle, again…
    This American Masters episode featuring the life and state of mind of the great Merle Haggard has floored me.
    I have long appreciated Mr. Haggard’s poetics and his sound. This film gave insight into the poet’s soul and allowed us as viewers into very private and personal places.
    I am appreciating Mr.Haggard’s courage and open trust of us as voyeurs, who through this episode were allowed to witness a great, great artist who continues to pioneer a path of personal expression and honest communication in this imperfect world.
    I will be watching this film again with profound appreciation for all involved, To quote another giant in the field of American Music ,Ernest Tubb, “THANK YOU!”

  • Kathy Holeman

    He really moves me.

  • foy lanham

    im 57yrs old and when i was around 8 yrs old a buddie started singing some i thought silly songs but my buddie moved away to nashville searching to make a name for his self hedid write a few songs but he was always sing merles songs so naturally i got hooked and now many yrs later ive seen him in concert many times and hope many more theirs no one thatcan write a song like him with feeling i had a ruff life growing up and listening to merle sing about the old times brings back so many good memories.what else can be said hes the GREATEST id love and give anything to be able to sit and go fishing with him someday,but i know its just a dream. thanks for giving me this timeto talk about someone that i love so much. foy

  • Elaine

    I was so moved by this presentation of Merle’s life and times. Through the years of his huge popularity, I and my family were such big fans of all his music. It was so wonderful to hear so many of those songs again on this movie…at times certain things he said and songs he sang brought me to tears. I had no idea of the soulful depth of Merle Haggard the man. I am so happy that he agreed to have this movie made of his life story. He is such an icon in the county music field….so respected and admired. His music has touched so many people ovr the years. I am not sure that he really believes how much he is loved by his fans. I think this movie may have been just what he needed at this time in his life…to be able to express so much of his deep feelings and doubts about life in general. Anyone who is in his age group, as I am, can so relate to what he speaks of in his songs and in the personal thoughts that he shared during the movie. I could see from watching this story of his life, that he has shown us his real feelings all along, through the songs he has written and performed. I just didn’t want the movie to end. It was just such a great experience for me. I want to purchase the DVD as soon as it becomes available.

  • Linda Hill

    I just got done watching Learning to Live with Myself, I have been a Merle Haggard fan for a long time . I still listen to my cassette”16 Biggest Hits”, I have other cassettes by Merle Haggard,but this one has always been the one I love and play the most. Every song has a story about life. His music will always be true to America way of Life. Is there any way I can order a DVD ? GOD BLESS YOU MERLE HAGGARD and may GOD ALWAYS be with you and your FAMILY.

  • Linda Hill

    I just got done watching Learning to Live with Myself I have always been a Merle Haggard fan. I have a cassette that has his 16 Greatest Hits, I have other Merle Haggard cassettes ,but this one I really love and play the most. Every song has a story and Merle Haggard music is a true way of America life with words and feelings, YOU ARE TRULY A COUNTRY MUSIC LEGEND AND ICON. and I love your SMILE . To me =your songs will NEVER be Forgotten =the words you put into your songs and the way your music plays will always be MERLE HAGGARD.=I would like to know if I could oder the DVD ? GOD BLESS YOU MERLE HAGGARD and may GOD ALWAYS be with YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

  • Diane

    I would love a copy of this…will you be selling them. I’ve loved Merle and his music since I was little and my brother who was a local singer and never wanted to be more, did many of his songs. One thing I’d say to Mr Haggard is, we came because of his music, not because he’d been in prison like he thinks. All the best to you and your family.

  • Terry Giltner

    I want to purchase the DVD as soon as possible. Merle Haggard is the greatest country artist alive.

  • Barbara Miller

    I, like the rest of you have been Hag fan for more years than I’d like to admit. I was 16, had just met my future husband. Haggard was already his idol, and he soon became mine. Our whole marriage has been full of Merle Haggards music. 3 grown daughters and 2 teenage grandkids, and all of em Haggard fans!! Have seen him in person many times, NEVER a disappointment. My husband met his idol a few years ago, what a thrill for him. Got an autograph and a photo! As far as the special, I felt so sad, also melancholy. Seems life goes by in the blink of an eye. I was impressed with the respect Theresa shows her husband, Merle. The love is palpable I hope to meet them both someday, who knows “Stranger” things have happened! lol Take Care both of you, it’s much deserved. bmille23@yahoo.com ( Westland, Mi)

  • Chris

    This new documentary on Merle definitely raises the bar for artist profiles. Absolutely stunning! Kudos to all who helped get this on the air.

  • Shelby

    I have loved Merle Haggard and his music just about all my life,he and I are about the same age,and I was so proud of him for allowing PBS to make a film of his life and as usual it was very well done. I would be hard put to pick a favorite song as I love them all but have always had special feelings for the one he wrote for his Father. I’m so happy for him that he found such a loving wife and now has such a wonderful family. I love him as much as I could love a man that I wasn’t in love with. I hope if you make a DVD available for his many fans that you in some way let us know ,you sure would make a lot of people very happy. I ,for one!

  • Ken

    I enjoyed Merle Haggard, the music and the others who know him. A very enjoyable program.

  • Fern L.

    Awesome!!!! Rare when the heart and the music are so artistically united into a voice that speaks directly to every working person. A rare talent and we are Blessed. Thanks for this excellent documentary. And God Bless you, Merle. We’re all happy that you are happy and your compassion for the small thorns in all our lives. Write on, play on . . .

  • april p

    Fantastic, moving piece. THANK YOU!

  • Dave Templeton

    This is an exceptional glimpse of who Merle Haggard was and is and how he got whee he did. I got to see his performance in Yuma, AZ and will always value that experience from this master of “Singing from the Heart”.

  • Chuck

    I’ve always been a fan of Merle, but felt a little more attached when he talked about Jimmie Rodgers. My Dad was a personal friend of Jimmie when they were both young. He spoke of the times that Jimmie would sneak him and his brother on a boxcar when Jimmies dad wasn’t looking, and how they would tell people where to buy illegal whiskey, and then go and tell Tom, Jimmies older brother who was a law man in Meridian Ms. and collect $5 reward.

  • alice western

    how can I buy a copy of the pbs special on Merle?

  • Big G

    Merle, there can be only one!!!

  • David Byers

    I’ve been playing and singing Country music since I was a very young Boy over 50 years and Merle Haggard has been one of My biggest influences !! Not only his songs but His style and true to life Lyrics. His music is a part of our Shows and and his name is included in the lyrics of one of my songs ! Thanks Merle

  • dave scott

    just saw the hag the night this was put on tv.july 21,2010.i was first introduced to merles music when i was 5 years old by my mother who was a huge merle fan.i have no problem with the hags music and would share my passion for his music with anyone.this show is great and will purchase it when it comes out.thank god the man is still performing and the people who see him love his music.going to see his son marty play a tribute to his dad here in ontario later this month.great production.it was a great look at a country music legend his new album is awesome too.god bless.dave kitchener ont canada

  • Dan

    when is this coming out on dvd?

  • JerrynKari aka haggardfan

    I love this man and his family. I have been following Merle since the early 1980s. My dad had a cd of Merle haggards greatest hits so in the 1970s is when I first heard his voice. This remarkable man is so talented I could sit for hours and listen to him sing, talk or just play the music. His son Benny is also a awesome and talanted musician. He’s a little on the shy side but it would be great if he could sing like his dad. I think Merle deserves alot more then what he gets. I wish him and his family the best of everything, and I always want to thank Treasa for sharing her wonderful man with us. I love this american masters episode, and I also want to purchase the dvd if it were to become available..

    Love ya HAG & FAMILY

  • ray

    How can I find out when the Merle Haggard American Masters show will air again on PBS in San Francisco can anyone help me please thank you

  • Kay

    Will this be shown again? I missed it, didn’t know it was even on until today. Please run it again or make available on DVD or online or SOMETHING. I am a REALLY BIG fan of the Hag and his music for a long time. Read both his books, they were SO very interesting.. Please, PBS, make your viewers happy by making this available to be seen again.

  • cher

    Boy. people see a tv show and they think they know a man.
    just enjoy the music.
    do you really know anything about what is true?
    can you see it?
    it is all about the music.
    forget about what you think you now.
    you do not know a thing about this mans real life.
    not at all.

  • HUGO

    Merle is gifted with one of the most spectacular voices ever to be recorded and shared with his millions of fans.
    I never grow weary of listening to his music. I love his guitar playing style, as well. The lyrics of his songs grab your attention and hold it: as they speak straight from his heart. Most of us have never suffered the anguish and lonliness that has been a large part of what has shaped Merle into the “everyday, everybody’s man” that Merle has long embodied… but, he manages to converse with the parts of all of us, that dance around the outskirts of those experiences. Great voice… Great music. A man’s man for the ages. Thanks for sharing, Merle: you’ve succeeded in touching millions of us, where it counts the most… in our hearts.

  • Lynne

    Never was a fan until I saw this documentary–the only tune I was familiar with was “Okie from Muskogee” and really didn’t care for that one, being a flower child from the 60’s. I have a whole new opinion of Mr. Haggard–and tremendous respect for sure. Some of the personal thoughts he shared almost brought me to tears and I laughed like a fool at the end–you go Merle! I especially enjoyed hearing from all of his wives–having the former wife in your wedding party speaks volumes about the man (and the women too, of course). I am so glad the show is available online–I missed the beginning, so will be watching it in its entirety now.

  • Kathie Fox

    I’ve loved this man and his music since he came on the scene in the mid 60’s. There is no other like him and never will be. His music is so pure. I truly enjoyed this documentary of his life. PBS did a great job. I’ve read Hag’s books and this really brought them to life. Hope Merle will continue to tour. I look forward to seeing him in the North Texas and Southern Oklahoma area.
    They just don’t get any better than the “Hag.”

  • J Clay Livingston

    I still have the $20 bill Mr. Haggard signed while standing by his tour bus behind the Tucson community Center. He talked with the five or so fans that night like he was just a regular man, no pretentiousness whatsoever. Mr. Haggard says he’s still waiting to right the perfect country song. Well, I believe he’s already done it many times over.

  • Mardell

    Great job on the documentary. Straight from the heart. He speaks through his experiences and shares what he has learned. Very touching.

  • Billy Goat

    This was an awesome piece of work by all involved. Hats off to you Hag, we all wish you and your family all the best. From all of us in the MOE-D mafia down in the bayous. We enjoyed the ride with ya’ll.

  • Rich

    Merle lives in Northern California and most, if not all, his band members live in various foothill locations around Sacramento. I saw them in an intimate venue at the refurbished Crest Theatre in Downtown Sacramento. Holds about a thousand I would say. The whole program was great! When Merle ambled onto the stage in the coolest, most understated entrance you could imagine, the audience exploded in boistrous applause, sustained, I hasten to add! One of a kind, we all knew what we were witnessing. Truly, a unique all American success story!!

  • E. Angus

    I caught this on Pbs one night and have a new appreciation of Merle Haggard. My daughter is a huge fan of Mr. Haggard and this site will be bookmarked by she and i both for future viewings. A great documentary. Keep up the good work PBS.

  • E Angus

    I thought the whole film was available here. Is that not so ? When will it be on DVD ?

  • Mike Hamilton

    I loved it. Thanks everybody.

  • Frank

    This was touching piece. a story that should be in the history books. Mr Haggard is one the great vocal talents of our time and as a writer he will surely be in the history books. thanks for all the memories Merle. a true fan. God Bless

  • john

    that was beautiful.
    thank you PBS. :)

  • john

    his life is pretty much the history of rural america in the 20th century. it is both up lifting and heart breaking.

  • Bob

    What a fantastic show. I’m happy, very happy for Merle and his family that Merle made it through his battle with Cancer. I lost my dad to Cancer not long ago. It’s amazing how much dad and Merle have in common. I believe had they met, they’d have gotten along well. Merle’s music has meant so much to me, I just could never explain it or put it into words. Merle has provided me with some wonderful memories spent with my dad, fishing together and always having Merle’s music along for the trip with us, or catching one of Merle’s concerts together whenever we could afford to go. Or dad sitting in his chair asking me to play/sing a few of Merle’s songs on the guitar. Now that dad is gone, not only do I still enjoy listening to Merle’s music, but his songs now provide all those memories of time I spent with my dad. When I think now of my dad and men like Merle, I think of the changing world they lived through. How it’s almost unrecognizable in so many ways. I cried a little when Merle saw his childhood home. I remember being with my dad years ago as he drove by his old home. He couldn’t say a word. Whoever lived there at the time had ruined to the point we almost drove past without noticing it. It was a sad moment and I felt the same way seeing Merle’s old home because I could relate having had the same exact feeling he probably had at that moment. I hope Merle finds some peace of mind within himself, he certainly deserves it with all he’s given without even knowing it.

    Merle Haggard, Is The Real Deal
    I’m glad I grew up on his music, and
    I’ll never forget meeting him and Bonnie
    My best wishes to Merle and his family

    He’s still the best

  • frank verweij

    I’m a Merle Haggard fan since the early 70’s.
    Being lucky to see and hear him and Bonnie Owens plus The Stangers perform in Utrecht and Rotterdam ( The Netherlands ).
    This is a MUST SEE docu for every countrymusic lover !.
    It made me fight my tears now and then.

    Hearing today’s middle-of-the- road, so called ‘country’, I’m glad we still have ’steady-as-a-rock’ countrymusic from this great poet, singer and performer.

    Thanks Merle !

    Frank Verweij
    Gouda-The Netherlands

  • Michael

    Fantastic bio of one of America’s great cultural icons.

  • Doris

    Merle Haggards Legacy is not only about his Music. It is more about who he was , and what he did with his life. these no pretence in him , he is who he is, which is why he is so beloved. For myself, and how I feel about Merle , is how happy I am for he and his family that they have had this time together . when he an Theresa got married, they retreated to the peacefulness of their ranch there . I know the most happy time of his life has been with her , and raising their two children, He has lived to see them grown , and I know, in my heart that has always been his prayer, and I might add , he has always professed his love for all his children. He will go down in my book as a guy that was just your everyday person. who put his feelings out there in a song.

  • Cecil

    When will this be aired again,I missed the Oct.21,2010 on PBS.I have always loved Merle’s music,my sons and I have played his music in fun for many a years.Merle is one of our favorites.

  • mack

    it hard doing time no matter how fast or how far you run from the walls.
    it like you cant . get it out of head. thank you for songs

  • Twyla

    This Man has truly lived all the good and bad that any one man could possibly handle, but he has weathered the storms and survived.

    Hes a Hero… Heroes are Made, not Born . A matter of fate!

    All heroes don’t appear in the great and traditional areas of confrontation- war, religion, and politics,
    Their are those people who follow an unexpected summons.

    Not sure which, the talent or the struggle to express that talent that makes this individual a hero to me?

    And,He’s Still Rock-en! !

  • ruby stewart

    mighty merle–love his music-my best artist….i want this pbs broadcast for christmas 2010…thats all i want —where can i get it???????help

  • debi

    when will this program be aired or did i miss it?

  • Carolyn

    One of the best documentary films ever made! I was so focused, never even thought of pausing it to take a break. Merle, you are a legend. You have done Bakersfield, your family, your friends and your fans proud. You, your music and your life has always touched me, but even more so deeply after watching this great film. God bless you and your family!

  • ruby stewart

    Please let me know where i can buy this dvd—living with myself—if any one recorded it -please let me know–i have checked everywhere to be able to but it…..no results i love merles music more than any other

  • Michael Hess

    Please issue this film on DVD. You’ve done real nice work with it, guys, but it deserves greater exposure. I hope we’ll see it available, commercially, soon.

  • Ben

    How can I purchase a dvd of the American Masters show on Merle Haggard

  • patrick

    Merle you are truely one in a million. They broke the mold after you. You are a musical genius!!! Great on the radio, cd player, whatever You Are Great!!!

  • amintern

    The Merle Haggard DVD is currently unavailable for purchase. Thank you for your interest. We hope you continue to visit the website for many more new exciting profiles and upcoming premiere information.

  • Maineac

    Finally got a chance to view this excellent documentary! Had the pleasure of meeting one of the producers last year. The whole team did a great job–thanks!

  • Tom Riccobono

    Very Moved and inspired by this documentary. I always thought I loved Merle Haggard but now I know I do. Him and his music, life and times.

  • Robert Emory Sears

    I am 42 yrs. old. I was raised on Mr. Haggard. My Grandfather played with Hank, Sr. Merle Haggard is the greatest influence in true country music since Hank and Lefty. Love ya Hag.

  • JimmyG

    Thank you Merle for sharing your music with The World. And to the makers of this film to enable future generations to get a glimpse or a true American Master.

  • Floyd Drown

    As a country musician myself for 50 years, I have watched Merle both live and on TV, I perform a lot of his songs, he is a writer of great talent, I can relate to his life as some of my own. Keep on singing Merle, one of the greatest.

  • gmac

    not too good, a lot of people have grown up in rougher times and I don’t hear them crying about it, heck it made he famous what’s he got to grumble about, life, he’s in charge of his own so whose to blame

  • Richard Quinney

    Is it possible to purchase this as a DVD? And How? Thank you

  • Kasi Kimberley

    I have to say that for the past few of hours i have been hooked by the amazing posts on this website. Keep up the good work.

  • Deb

    We would like to purchase a copy of the American Masters documentary featuring Merle Haggard.
    Is this possible at this point? If not, please let us know why not — especially since you feature so many
    of the great American Masters documentaries in your “marketplace”. Do you think it will be available someday?

    Many thanks, Deb


    can i buy this video..or DVD


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