Fifty-one years ago today, on Dec. 29, 1969, Merle Haggard‘s Okie From Muskogee album was released. The record, along with the title track, soared to the top of the charts.
“Okie From Muskogee” — with lines like, “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” – was considered by many to be a statement against the political condition of the country at the time, even though that wasn’t Haggard’s original intent.
“We wrote it to be satirical originally,” Haggard explains. “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.”
Haggard wrote or co-wrote most of the 20 tracks on Okie From Muskogee. The disc won an ACM for Album of the Year in 1970, and the title track won Single Record of the Year and Song of the Year, with Haggard taking home Top Male Vocalist of the Year as well. At that year’s CMA Awards, the song, record and Haggard won Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and Single of the Year.
Okie From Muskogee has been re-released multiple times on other labels. The record is available for download on Amazon.
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