Lyric by Merle Haggard. This song was released on Mr. Haggard's album of the same name in 1968.

Mr. Haggard was fond of riding freight trains in his youth, and he did in fact spend his twenty-first birthday in prison, in San Quentin, California. He made his home there from 1957 to 1960. He took up music professionally after he was released.


First thing I remember knowing was a lonesome whistle blowing
And a young-'un's dream of growing up to ride
On a freight train leaving town, not knowing where I'm bound.
No one could change my mind. Mama tried.

I was an only rebel child from a family meek and mild
My mama seemed to know what lay in store
In spite of all my Sunday learning
Towards the bad I kept on turning, 'til Mama couldn't hold me any more.

And I turned twenty-one in prison, doing life without parole.
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied:
That leaves only me to blame, 'cause Mama tried.


Dear old daddy, rest his soul, left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Working hours without rest, wanted me to have the best,
She tried to raise me right, but I refused.

And I turned twenty-one in prison, doing life without parole.
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied:
That leaves only me to blame, 'cause Mama tried.



And here's a track listing for the album:

  1. Mama Tried
  2. Green Green Grass of Home
  3. Little Ole Wine Drinker Me
  4. In the Good Old Days
  5. I Could Have Gone Right
  6. I'll Always Know
  7. The Sunny Side of My Life
  8. Teach Me to Forget
  9. Folsom Prison Blues
  10. Run 'Em Off
  11. You'll Never Love Me Now
  12. Too Many Bridges to Cross Over

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.