Out of all of Merle Haggard’s many songs that celebrate the working man, none is more renowned than his single “Workin’ Man Blues.”
The song was released in 1969 – during Haggard’s early peak – as the second single from his album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. The song quickly claimed the top spot on both the U.S. and Canadian country charts following its release, and it stayed there for a week.
“Workin’ Man Blues” has definitely become one of several signature songs during his career.
One Of The Biggest Hits Of Merle Haggard’s Career
Written by Merle Haggard himself, “Workin’ Man Blues” is a tribute to his loyal fans, most of whom were blue-collar workers toiling every week for a paycheck. Its lyrics celebrate the effort these working men put into each day.
Backed with a strong electric guitar beat that symbolized Haggard’s signature Bakersfield Sound, he played the role of one of those wage-earners expressing pride in values like hard labor and sacrifice, despite the subsequent fatigue and stress of raising a big family. He confessed to relaxing during his off-working hours and vowed that he would never need to go on welfare as a result of keeping his values.
“I keep my nose on the grindstone. I work hard every day. I might get a little tired on the weekend after I draw my pay. Then I’ll go back workin’, come Monday morning I’m right back with the crew. I’ll drink a little beer that evening. Sing a little bit of these working man blues,” the song goes.
“Workin’ Man Blues” was also well-received by music critics. Mark Deming, for instance, found the song to be among three of Haggard’s finest songs to appear on the album – “Hungry Eyes” and “Silver Wings” were the other two. “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 would release in 1969,” Deming wrote.
The Ultimate Blue-collar Anthem in Country Music
Although Haggard went on becoming one of country music’s legendary artists, he never forgot his roots. Coming from a working-class background, Haggard used his life experiences as a source of inspiration for many of his countless hits. Thus, he was quickly able to connect with the working class through his songs and stories about common people living ordinary lives.
Today, “Workin’ Man Blues” is being considered to be the ultimate blue-collar anthem in country music. So, it’s no longer a surprise that it is one of Haggard’s most frequently covered singles.
Tune in and be inspired by Merle Haggard’s performance of “Workin’ Man Blues” in the video below.