Tuesday, December 9, 2014

okie from muskogee

Merle Haggard showed how even squares can have a ball with this small town satire and had one of the biggest hits of his career.  Haggard had already established himself as a singular voice in country music with albums like 'Swinging Doors and The Bottle Let Me Down''I'm A Lonesome Fugitive', 'Sing Me Back Home', and 'Mama Tried'; but it was with a song that dealt with the subject of the divisive countercultural movement of the late sixties from the perspective of the common folk of the American heartland that he found crossover appeal.  

"Okie From Muskogee" was written with Roy Edward Burris.  Haggard would reveal:  "When I was in prison, I knew what it was like to have freedom taken away. Freedom is everything.  During Vietnam, there were all kinds of protests. Here were these [servicemen] going over there and dying for a cause — we don’t even know what it was really all about. And here are these young kids, that were free, b—-ing about it. There’s something wrong with that and with [disparaging] those poor guys.  We were in a wonderful time in America and music was in a wonderful place. America was at its peak and what the hell did these kids have to complain about? These soldiers were giving up their freedom and lives to make sure others could stay free.  I wrote the song to support those soldiers ... We wrote it to be satirical originally. But then people latched onto it, and it really turned into this song that looked into the mindset of people so opposite of who and where we were. My dad's people. He's from Muskogee."

The single became the eighth of thirty-eight career country chart toppers, going to number three on Canada's country chart and even climbing the pop chart to number forty-one.  With the success of the single, Haggard took his band The Strangers to Muskogee, Oklahoma to record a live album with producer Fuzzy Owen.  The show features Merle Haggard on vocals and guitar;  Roy Nichols on lead guitar;  Norman Hamlet on pedal steel guitar and dobro;  Gene Price on bass and background vocals;  Eddie Burris on drums;  and Bonnie Owens on background vocals.   At the 1969 Academy of Country Music Awards the live long player 'Okie From Muskogee' won Album of the Year while the tune "Okie From Muskogee" won Song of the Year and  Single of the Year.  Haggard also took Top Male Vocalist in a year that he released five other albums:   'Pride in What I Am', 'Same Train, Different Time', 'Instrumental Sounds of Merle Haggard's Strangers', 'A Portrait of Merle Haggard', and 'Close Up'.  


"Okie From Muskogee"

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don't take our trips on LSD
We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin' right, and bein' free.

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,
And white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all

We don't make a party out of lovin';
We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo;
We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy,
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.

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,
And white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all.

Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear;
Beads and Roman sandals won't be seen.
Football's still the roughest thing on campus,
And the kids here still respect the college dean.

We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA.

(studio version)

'Okie From Muskogee' 
full album:


All songs by Merle Haggard unless otherwise noted.

"Introduction by Carlton Haney" –  :35
"Mama Tried" – 2:25
"No Hard Times" (Jimmie Rodgers) – 2:20
"Silver Wings" – 2:39
"Merle Receives Key to Muskogee" – 1:20
"Merle's Introduction to Medley" – :23
"Swinging Doors" – 1:16
"I'm a Lonesome Fugitive" (Liz Anderson, Casey Anderson) – 1:37
"Sing Me Back Home" – 1:24
"Branded Man" – 2:18
"In the Arms of Love" (Buck Owens, Gene Price) – 2:08
"Workin' Man Blues" – 2:35
"Merle's Introduction to "Hobo Bill"" – 1:07
"Hobo Bill's Last Ride" (Waldo Lafayette O'Neal) – 2:38
"Billy Overcame His Size" – 3:05
"If I Had Left It Up to You" – 2:36
"White Line Fever" – 3:03
"Blue Rock" (Norman Hamlet, Roy Nichols) – 1:09
"Introduction to Okie from Muskogee" – 1:47
"Okie from Muskogee" (Merle Haggard, Eddie Burris) – 4:05

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