Random Records: Merle Haggard – Okie From Muskogee

So the other day I was down in my shop/dungeon/secret lair/basement doing a few chores and decided to pull a record at random from the ol’ shelves to listen to. I thought…hey, that would make an interesting recurring feature on the ol’ blog, and what a great way to increase my coveted blogger cred ;-) . so here we are. What I plan to do is post a few thoughts on the album and a track from the album.

The record I pulled ended up being Merle Haggard’s 1968 live album Okie From Muskogee.

The fact I pulled a Hag record should come as no surprise to me, as I have a lot of Hag records. This one in particular though is one of my favorites. I like to call it Merle’s “Folsom”. That is a good comparison because much like Cash’s “Folsom” & “San Quentin” twofer, Merle had “Okie” and 1970’s “Fightin’ Side of Me”. Both great live albums that should go together as a pair (much like Cash’s).
Okie was recorded live in Muskogee, Oklahoma and features the song the album takes it’s title from. Sadly I don’t think the fine folks of Muskogee realized they were on the butt end of Merle’s very tongue in cheek (and often misunderstood) “Okie From Muskogee”. “Okie”, written from his dad’s perspective about the events of the time (the 60’s man…) became sort of anthem that Haggard never intended. Here are his own words on the subject: “It started out as a joke. We wrote 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”
For my money though the best song on this album is without a doubt “Silver Wings”. This version of the song is in my opinion THE version of “Silver Wings”. So stripped down, just Haggard and the strangers, some of Hag’s most soulful vocals and I just love it when he says to Roy Nichols “Pick it Nichol’s” right before he lays some tasty licks on us.
This is without a doubt one of my top 3 Country albums of all time, which is what inspired me to start this recurring feature…..Might as well start it with something REALLY GOOD, call it luck of the draw.

Listen to Merle Haggard – Silver Wings (live) here
  • Wright

    December 11th, 2009


    Well I am from Muskogee, and growing up hearing that there is a song about the place you live made folks proud and then hearing it played on the radio was great. Now to know that my town was being made a mockery of, is a slap in the face. Oh well artist write songs and put it out there… I'm still proud of being from Muskogee, Ok.

    Thanks for posting this blog..it provided information I was unaware of.

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