Merle Haggard performs “Okie From Muskogee” Live from Austin, TX 1985.

On November 15 the song reached the number one at US Country Charts, for 4 weeks in a row. It was the eighth number one in Merle Haggard's career. The song was included on the album, Okie from Muskogee (Capitol 1969)

YouTube Live From Austin TX Channel
YouTube Live From Austin TX Channel

Okie from Muskogee:

Single cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969
Single cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969

Song written by Merle Haggard & Roy Edward Burris, was recorded on July 17, 1969, for the Capitol label, with the production of Ken Nelson, and was released on September 29, 1969. On November 15 the song reached the number one at US Country Charts, for 4 weeks in a row. It was the eighth number one in Merle Haggard’s career. The song was included on the album, Okie from Muskogee (Capitol 1969), it was recorded live in 1969, The Civic Center, Muskogee, OK. The album reached number one in Billboard Country albums charts in 1970 and also hit number 46 on pop chart.
The album won the Academy of Country Music award for Album of the Year in 1969. It also received the CMA Award for Album of the Year in 1970. Haggard also won Single of the Year for “Okie from Muskogee” as well as Top Male Vocalist.

“Okie From Muskogee” would become Merle Haggard’s best-selling single of all time. It was also the song that defined his career. He and “Okie” would always be inseparable.

Lp cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )
Lp cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )

The song speaks of the family values of mid-level Americans in 1969, “Okie From Muskogee” reached every household with its message. This was a song that millions were willing to hang on their hats. By buying this record and singing this song, they could vent their anger and disgust with the hippies and the shooting dodgers. The lyrics of Merle’s new composition gave voice to the silent majority of the United States that was obviously upset and disgusted by what It was happening with the rebellious society of the nation in the late sixties.

Story behind the song:

Cd cover Leona Williams ( Ah-Ha 2008 )
Cd cover Leona Williams ( Ah-Ha 2008 )

One day, Merle and her gang were on the bus that was traveling through Oklahoma on their way to another show, and they found themselves caught up in a political argument. They saw a sign along the interstate that read: “Muskogee 19 miles”. One of the band members commented that the citizens of Muskogee probably did not smoke marijuana. Always attentive to small comments like the one that could trigger the idea of a song, Haggard began to compile a list of other things that probably did not do in downtown Oklahoma. In a short time, Merle and her drummer Roy Burris wrote their observations on a piece of paper and put them in verses. In twenty minutes, the duo had finished a song titled “Okie From Muskogee.”



Single cover Freddy Weller ( Columbia 1970 )
Sg cover Freddy Weller ( Columbia 1970 )

For Merle the song was more a tribute to his father, James, who died in 1946 when the boy was only nine years old. In the early 1930s, James Haggard lived in Checotah, Oklahoma (about 20 miles south of Muskogee) when the Great Depression took over Sooner State. In 1934, he was forced to leave the family farm, and migrate west, settling in Bakersfield, California. James was disparaged, labeled as white trash and ridiculed for the rest of his life. He even had to turn an old abandoned car into a home for his family, but he never lost his self-esteem, and he never stopped being proud of being an American and an Okie. For old Haggard, there was no shame either. The man died poor but proud of who he was.



The song was also included in the soundtrack of, Platoon (Atlantic 1987)

Cd cover Hank lll ( Curb 2014 )
Cd cover Hank lll ( Curb 2014 )

Versions:
Conway Twitty 1970 (Decca)
Freddy Weller 1970 (Columbia)
Tommy Cash 1970 (Epic)
Cal Smith 1970 (Kapp Records)
Tennessee Ernie Ford 1972 (Capitol)
Tommy Collins 1972 (Starday Records)
Kinky Friedman 1983 ( BDE)
Leon Russell 1998 (Ark 21)
George Canyon 2007 (Universal Music Canada)
Leona Williams 2008 (Ah-Ha)
Hank lll 2014 ( Curb Records )
…and many more…..





Merle Haggard – Okie From Muskogee Lyrics

We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee
We don’t take no trips on LSD;
We don’t burn no draft cards down on Main Street
But, We love living right, and being free
We don’t make a party out of loving
But we like holding hands and pitching woo;
We don’t let our hair grow long and shaggy
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do

[Chorus]
And I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee
A place where even squares can have a ball;
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse
White lightning’s still the biggest thrill of all

[Verse 2]
Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear
Beads and Roman sandals won’t be seen;
A football’s still the roughest thing on campus
And the kids here still respect the college dean

[Chorus]
And I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee
A place where even squares can have a ball;
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse
White lightning’s still the biggest thrill of all
And white lightning’s still the biggest thrill of all
(In Muskogee Oklahoma USA)

Single Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )
Single Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )

Miquel Batlle
mbatllegarriga@gmail.com