Photo credit: Screen grabbed from Youtube

The late country legend Merle Haggard scored a total of 38 No. 1 songs on the country charts. While many of those songs centered on his life, “The Hag” also recorded songs about his mom and grandmother. The former refers to his fifth chart-topper hit Mama Tried” that became one of his career’s cornerstone songs. On the other hand, “Grandma Harp” is a tune he wrote which talked about his grandmother, Zona Villines. The song was among his collaborative records with The Strangers. It was released in March 1972 as the second single from his album Let Me Tell You About a Song. Two months later, “Grandma Harp” reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and stayed there for two weeks.

The Song

In this family-themed hit, Haggard recounts his grandma’s long and prominent life. Having lived on earth for almost a hundred years, the family matriarch’s life is filled with precious memories that are worth keeping. And, putting this into a few lines of a song won’t be enough. Yet, the I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” singer was able to capture the very essence of “Grandma Harp’s” life. Based on the lyrics, the protagonist portrayed his granny as a woman of strength. Out of poverty, she was able to rear a decent family. Additionally, her faithfulness to her husband has thrived for seventy years that they were together. Toward the end of the song, the singer emphasized that this tune is mainly a reflection on how “Grandma Harp” served as a rock that kept the family together.

The Lyrics

Grandma’s maiden name was Zona Villines
There’s ninety years to tell about in a few short lines
Born in Newton County down in Arkansas
Then in nineteen-one, she married Grandpa
We laid her soul to rest one Sunday mornin’
And everybody knew she’d done her part
Don’t get set to hear no hidden family legend
Just a song about the life of Grandma Harp

Just think about the times that she lived through
And think about the changing world she saw
Now, somehow, she reared a decent family out of poverty
And for seventy years she loved the same old Grandpa
To me, her passing brought a closing chapter
To a way of life that I love within my heart
I just mean to say I think we owe her something special
If just a song about the life of Grandma Harp

Grandma’s maiden name was Zona Villines
There’s ninety years to tell about in a few short lines
Born in Newton County down in Arkansas
Then in nineteen-one, she married Grandpa
We laid her soul to rest one Sunday mornin’
And everybody knew she’d done her part
Don’t get set to hear no hidden family legend
Just a song about the life of Grandma Harp

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