Merle Haggard is responsible for writing some of the most recognizable songs in country music history. From “Mama Tried” to “If We Make it Through December,” Haggard’s words resonated with audiences far and wide.
His songwriting expertise was evident in another one of his big hits, his 1969 single “Okie from Muskogee.” Haggard co-wrote the song with Roy Edward Burris, and country fans ate it up. It secured the top spot on the Hot Country Songs chart and was also a crossover success, reaching the 41st spot on the Adult Contemporary chart.
The passage of time didn’t lessen fans’ enthusiasm for the song. It went on to become one of Haggard’s signature pieces, right up there with “Mama Tried” and a host of his other hits.
While we’ve seen videos of Haggard performing “Okie from Muskogee” many times before, it’s the throwback clips that we like best. It’s always a treat to watch artists in the early stages of their career, especially if you weren’t born at the time!
Luckily, there’s some footage floating around of a young Haggard singing “Okie from Muskogee” early on in his career. This treasure trove of a clip is surprisingly high-quality, and was filmed in full color. The vividness of the scene is outstanding, as Haggard sits in front of a brick-colored backdrop while his backup singers don bright green suits. Haggard stands out from the crowd in his blue shirt.
Seated at a piano, Haggard made a point to keep his eyes up as he sang. The way he connected with the camera makes it feel as though he’s singing directly to you, even though you’re separated by both time and an electronic screen.
This performance shows why Haggard was considered to be a master of country music. From his songwriting skills to his talent as an entertainer, no one could compete with “The Hag.”
Go ahead and take a trip back to the good old days by watching Haggard’s throwback performance of “Okie from Muskogee” below. There will never be another one like him, that’s for sure.