Merle Haggard's 'Okie from Muskogee' Reissued 45th Anniversary

(Radio.com) On March 25 of this year, the entire Okie from Muskogee album from Merle Haggard will get a full reissue in honor of its 45th anniversary. As a bonus, a second disc will feature another live Haggard album, The Fightin' Side of Me, which was originally issued in 1970 and has never made it to CD.

Any list of the most enduring songs in country music history needs to include Merle Haggard. And if you can only pick one song, it almost has to be "Okie from Muskogee."

Written and recorded by the Country Music Hall of Fame member, "Okie" hit the airwaves in the politically charged year of 1969, when Nixon had just been elected, the Civil Rights Act was only five years old, hippies were pouring into San Francisco and the Vietnam War was in full swing.

The song quickly became a No. 1 smash hit for Haggard - as did the album of the same name, which was recorded live in Muskogee, Oklahoma and appeared later that same year.

Was "Okie from Muskogee" a polarizing song? Absolutely. The lyrics baited hippies ("We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee," goes the famed opening line) and appealed immediately to conservatives and small-town Middle Americans (the so-called "silent majority") who considered themselves the moral foundation of an increasingly divided nation.

So while the "hippies out in San Francisco" might "let their hair grow long and shaggy" (as Haggard sang), Muskogee represented "a place where even squares can have a ball." And, of course, where "leather boots are still in style for manly footwear."

See the full track listing for both discs here.

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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