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Layla Tucker Pays Tribute To Merle Haggard On ‘Misery And Gin’ Cover

‘It’s been a really cool experience getting to record this song, like so many others, his music changed my life,’ says Tucker.

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Layla Tucker - Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival
Layla Tucker - Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival

Emerging country artist Layla Tucker has released a track and accompanying video for her striking cover of Merle Haggard’s classic ballad, “Misery and Gin.”

Produced by country music veteran Keith Thomas, “Misery and Gin” showcases the rising 22-year-old singer-songwriter’s exquisite vocal ability and remarkable interpretation skills. After listening, it’s clear why she was chosen as CMT Music’s Next Up Now Artist of the Month for March.

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As the daughter of legendary country music icon Tanya Tucker and renowned songwriter Jerry Lasseter, Layla’s connection to Merle Haggard is a deeply personal one. The country music giant was a close family friend who inspired Layla to work hard, find her voice and blaze her own musical trail.

“It’s shocking how many people I’ve met throughout the years who don’t know who Merle Haggard is,” Layla said. “It’s been a really cool experience getting to record this song, like so many others, his music changed my life.”

“Misery and Gin” is a stunning introduction for the Tennessee native. Layla’s vocals inform Haggard’s melancholy 1980 hit with equal parts reverence and attitude, a restrained, entrancing performance that reveals an artistic sophistication well beyond her years. The accompanying music video, directed by Casey Pierce and shot at The Underdog bar in Nashville, beautifully captures the song’s essential loneliness as the camera encircles Layla at the same table, singing the song night after night.

Expressing conviction and heartache, Layla’s performance flips the song’s rugged, western male archetype to a women’s perspective. As a teenager, Layla remembers how she rebelled against country music and pushed it out of her life. But when she was around 15 years old, the family moved to a new house in tiny Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, and country music served as a solace for her loneliness.

“I didn’t have any friends because we just moved out there, so all I really had was my dog, my record player and my guitar,” she remembers. “I could hook my phone up and I would sit in my room next to my window with my ear up to the speaker. That’s where I fell in love with country music again because it was kind of my only friend at the time. One of the first songs that really changed how I felt about country music was one of Merle’s.”

Buy or stream “Misery and Gin.”

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