"Mama Tried" is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard. It was released in July 1968 as the first single and title track from the album Mama Tried. The song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career. It won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, and was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, historic, or artistic significance" on March 23, 2016, just 14 days before Haggard's death.
In "Mama Tried", Haggard focuses on the pain and suffering he caused his own mother by being incarcerated in 1957 in San Quentin (although his sentence wasn't "life without parole"). Released in July 1968, Mama Tried was Merle Haggard's fifth No. 1 song on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in August. The song spent four weeks at No. 1, and was his biggest hit to that time.
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A video for this song: