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February 7

Merle Haggard Honors his Core Groupie in “Workin’ Man Blues”

“Workin’ Man Blues” is a song that American country music artist Merle Haggard composed and recorded. Released in May 1969, it was the second single from the album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. Capitol debuted the track during Ol’ Merle’s early peak. Because of that, it instantly became one of the several signature songs throughout his career. “Workin’ Man Blues” rocketed to the top of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart.

The Story Behind “Workin’ Man Blues”

When Hag’s label launched the single, Haggard was having anything but the blues. This was the time when he had been riding high after seven chart-toppers. However, Merle said no to stop thinking about the rough and tumble roots where he came from. He was singing the anthem of a man who has nine children and is struggling to live by.

As an honor to a core group of his fans: The American blue-collared working men, Merle Haggard had “Workin’ Man Blues”. The song backed by a strong electric guitar beat represented Ol’ Hag’s signature Bakersfield Sound. He portrays the role of one of those workers expressing pride in values such as hard work and sacrifice. Despite the fatigue given by work and stress brought by raising a large family, these values still remain.

In an interview, Merle admits to relaxing during the off-working hours. He shared that he drank beer in a tavern and sang a little of those workin’ man’s blues. At that time, he also vowed that as a result of keeping his values, he would never need to go on welfare. He would be working as long as his two hands are fit to use.

Meanwhile, Music critic Mark Deming noted that the song was among the top three of Haggard’s songs. “Workin’ Man Blues” together with “Silver Wings” and “Hungry Eyes” were the finest tunes to appear on the album. In his review, he wrote that most country artists would be happy to cut three tunes that are as strong. During their career, they would not let one pass despite being part of an album.

The other musicians that made a cover of “Workin’ Man Blues” were Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Diamond Rio, Lee Roy Parnell, and Steve Wariner. Apart from Haggard ’s solo, he also had a duet with best friend Willie Nelson.


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merle haggard, working man blues


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