Back in 2011, Joey + Rory paid tribute to Merle Haggard’s “Fightin’ Side of Me” during the 16th Equiblues Festival.
The world was absolutely rocked by the news that Joey Feek had lost her long battle with cervical cancer in 2016, and the world of country music has never quite been the same ever since. Though Joey may no longer be with us here on Earth, this old clip gives us some kind of relief watching her full of life in their high-energy performance. The country duo definitely knows how to radiate warmth throughout the crowd. They were joined on stage by fellow singer Steve Carter making for an exciting musical event.
A Timeless Patriotic Song
Written by Merle Haggard himself, “Fightin’ Side of Me” tells the tale of a man frustrated with people ridiculing the country, especially those who are “harpin’ on the wars we fight” and “runnin’ down my countrymen,” which is believed to be about the ongoing Vietnam War at the time.
“They’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me. Runnin’ down a way of life. Our fightin’ men have fought and died to keep. If you don’t love it, leave it. Let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’ when you’re runnin’ down our country, hoss. You’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me,” the song goes.
The song was released as the lead single and title track to Haggard’s 1970 album, and it immediately broke in popularity. It went on to become the most famous song of his career.
“Fightin’ Side of Me” was actually written as the follow-up single to the similarly patriotic “Okie From Muskogee,” which had, just a few months earlier, catapulted Haggard to country mega-stardom.
Still, Haggard hoped to distance himself from the harshly right-wing image he had grown in the wake of the hippie-bashing “Okie From Muskogee.” He wanted to take a different direction and release “Irma Jackson” as his next single. This tale of interracial love affair comes with a catchy, uptempo number that ran at just under two and a half minutes, and he believed it was the perfect choice.
However, his label thinks otherwise! Instead, he was encouraged to record “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” and the rest was history! This patriotic, irreverent anthem has absolutely solidified Haggard’s small-town, right-winged image.
Tune in and relive the magic of Joey Fleek in the video below.
Joey Feek, Joey+Rory