Most of the No. 1 songs of Merle Haggard were recorded with his band The Strangers. The formation of the band came shortly after the success of The Hag’s first record. The late singer earned his first national Top 10 record with the song entitled “My Friends Are Gonna Be (Strangers).” Accordingly, he named his band after the song’s success. In his succeeding records, Haggard was with his crew. Together, they scored a total of 24 No. 1 hits and recorded over 15 studio albums since 1965. Also, Haggard’s first studio album was entitled Strangers, again, derived from his successful song.
“My Friends Are Gonna Be (Strangers)”
It was around 1964 when Liz Anderson (mother of country music singer Lynn Anderson) wrote the song “My Friends Are Gonna Be (Strangers).” She subsequently sent the tune to Nashville producers. Anderson was friends to Bonnie Owens who happened to be the lover of Merle Haggard at that time. He was also a newcomer to the music industry that time.
At first, both were hesitant about meeting each other. Anderson was not particularly interested in a regional performer. On the other hand, Haggard never heard of Anderson, and he was not that pleased to go to her house and listen to her songs. But with Owens’ encouragement, they eventually met and became friends. More than that, they fell in love with each other’s talents.
In the end, Merle Haggard found himself recording some of Anderson’s songs he heard that night. One particular song that captivated him was “My Friends Are Gonna Be (Strangers).” Haggard did not waste any time. Hurriedly, he went to the studio to record the song and release it as a single. His first ever recording gave his first national Top 10 hit.
Upon the song’s release, another country music singer named Roy Drusky cut and released it. Although his version also entered the Top 10, it reached a higher spot on the chart peaking at No. 6. Haggard’s rendition stayed at No. 10. The high competition between the two records on the chart was presumed to be the main reason why none of them reached No. 1.
Aside from Drusky, other country stars recorded their cover of the song. The list includes Liz Anderson and her daughter, Lynn Anderson, Ferlin Husky, Ernest Tubb, Porter Wagoner, and George Jones.
Below is Liz Anderson’s rendition of the song.
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Bonnie Owens, Liz Anderson, merle haggard, My Friends Are Gonna Be (Strangers)