Looking at Merle Haggard's Greatest Hits

Merle Haggard (April 6, 1937- April 6, 2016) was known as a country music legend during his lifetime, and he remains integral to country music history. During his career, he had 38 No. 1 country hits, won a countless amount of GRAMMYs, and was inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame in 1977. We chose five of his greatest hits in honor of his memory.


1. “I Am a Lonesome Fugitive” (1967)

This song was Haggard’s first No. 1 Hit after he signed with Capitol Records. Written by Liz and Casey Anderson, Haggard immediately connected to the song because of his time spent in San Quentin prison.


2. “Mama Tried” (1968)

Similar to “I Am a Lonesome Fugitive,” the narrative of “Mama Tried” focuses on Haggard’s criminal behavior and how it impacted his mother. It took the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for four weeks and was also No. 1 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.


3. “Okie from Muskogee” (1969)

Haggard wrote “Okie from Muskogee” as a statement against the Vietnam War protests. Like “Mama Tried,” it stayed at No. 1 for an entire month and even crossed over onto the pop charts. The following year, “Okie from Muskogee” won the Country Music Association Award for Single of the Year.


4. “If We Make It Through December” (1973)

“If We Make It Through December” was the lead single from the 1973 album Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present and chronicles economic hardship during the Christmas season. It also spent a month at No.1 on the Hot Country Singles chart and was No.1 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.


5. “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” (1980)

This honky tonk tune with an incredible saxophone solo by Don Markham became Haggard’s 26th No. 1 hit. While it only had the No.1 spot for a week, it stayed on the charts for 12 weeks.


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