March 14

One of the Finest and Most Significant Songs of Hag, “Hungry Eyes”

“Hungry Eyes” is a composition by Merle Haggard. In addition, the American country music artist himself made a cover of the said track. Released in December 1968, it was the first single from the album A Portrait of Merle Haggard.

The mother-child relationship can be one of the most complicated yet rewarding of all relationships.

As any parent will tell you, the practice of raising a child can be extremely difficult. Undeniably, mothers definitely deserve our thanks and praise. One of the perfect songs to dedicate to your mother is “Hungry Eyes”. This was the song that Hag wrote for his mother.

Background of the Song

Although “Hungry Eyes” is not autobiographical as some of the lyrics are not what he experienced, Haggard wrote the song as a tribute to his mother. It was to honor the sacrifices she made for her family as a single mother. Haggard’s father passed away and left them when he was 9.

The inspiration to “Hungry Eyes” came from Oklahomans and others who lived in labor camps during the Great Depression. This was the time period in which this song is set. According to reviews, it is Haggard’s way of commemorating a whole generation of Okies. This was a group who persisted through persecution and suffering to transplant their culture to California.

“Hungry Eyes” has a somber tone underscored the hope-filled despair of its main subject, Mama. It was a track on Haggard’s 1969 album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. Music critic Mark Deming noted that the song was among three of Haggard’s finest songs to appear on the album—“Silver Wings” and “Workin’ Man’s Blues”. Deming added that most country artists would be happy to cut three tunes this strong during the course of their career. Let alone as part of one of six albums Hag released in 1969.

During the late 1960s, Haggard released a series of recordings. Many critics have deemed these to be not only some of his greatest works but also some of the most significant in the history of country music. “Hungry Eyes” — sometimes known as “Mama’s Hungry Eyes” — is one of those recordings.


mama's hungry eyes, merle haggard

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