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Okie from Muskogee (song): Wikis

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"Okie from Muskogee"
Single by Merle Haggard
from the album Okie from Muskogee (studio version) and The Fightin' Side of Me (1970 live version)'
Released September 1969 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded July 17, 1969 (studio version)
Genre Country
Length 2:42 (studio version)
3:29 (live version)
Label Capitol Records 2626
Writer(s) Roy Edward Burris, Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard singles chronology
"Workin' Man's Blues"
(1969)
"Okie from Muskogee"
(1969)
"The Fightin' Side of Me"
(1970)

"Okie from Muskogee" is an American country music song performed by its co-writer, Merle Haggard. Released in 1969, the song became one of the most famous of his career.

Contents

Background

"It started out as a joke. We wrote to be satirical originally. But then people latched onto it, and it really turned into this song that looked into the mindset of people so opposite of who and where we were. My dad's people. He's from Muskogee, you know?" Haggard once noted about "Okie from Muskogee."[1] In fact, critic Kurt Wolff wrote that Haggard always considered what became a redneck anthem to be a spoof, and that today fans - even the hippies that are derided in the lyrics - have taken a liking to the song and take humor in some of the lyrics.[2]

Written by Haggard and Roy Edward Burris (drummer for Haggard's backing band, The Strangers) during the height of the Vietnam War, "Okie from Muskogee" grew from the two trading one-liners about small-town life,[3] where conservative values were the norm and outsiders with ideals contrary to those ways were unwelcome. Here, the singer reflects on how proud he is to hail from Middle America, where its residents were patriotic, and didn't smoke marijuana, take LSD, wear beads and sandals, burn draft cards or challenge authority.[4]

While viewed as a satire of small-town America and its reaction to the anti-war protests and counterculture seen in America's larger cities, Allmusic writer Bill Janovitz writes that the song also "convincingly (gives) voice to a proud, straight-laced truck-driver type. ... (I)n the end, he identifies with the narrator. He does not position the protagonist as angry, reactionary, or judgmental; it is more that the guy, a self-confessed 'square,' is confused by such changes and with a chuckle comes to the conclusion that he and his ilk have the right sort of life for themselves."

Session personnel were James Burton, Roy Nichols and Jerry Reed on guitar; Chuck Berghofer on bass, and Ron Tutt on drums.

Chart performance and popularity

"Okie from Muskogee" immediately broke in popularity when released in late September 1969. By November 15, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart, where it remained for four weeks. It also became a minor pop hit as well, reaching number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The version of "Okie from Muskogee" that reached No. 1 was the studio recording. After the song became widely popular, a live concert recording was issued and although that version never charted, it became very popular as well. The live version's distinguishing characteristics include a raucous crowd clapping and singing along with the chorus, and a voice yelling out, "Tell it like it is!" after the first verse.

"Okie from Muskogee" — along with the album, Okie from Muskogee — was named the Country Music Association Single of the Year in 1970.[5]

In the media and popular culture

The song was later parodied by The Youngbloods as "Hippie From Olema", and by Chinga Chavin as "Asshole From El Paso". Kinky Friedman later covered "Asshole from El Paso", while the Melvins covered the original "Okie" on their album The Crybaby, with Hank Williams III providing vocals.

Jimmy Fallon references Okie From Muskogee in his song "You Spit When You Talk".

The Drive-By Truckers' album Southern Rock Opera features a song called "The Three Great Alabama Icons" which references "Okie from Muskogee," likening it to Lynyrd Skynyrd's song Sweet Home Alabama in that it was written specifically to tell the "other side of the story" to what the author really believes.

The song was featured prominently in the Oliver Stone film Platoon where it is used to illustrate the internal sociopolitical division of the members of the platoon. While one faction ("heads") listens to psychedelic rock and soul, the other faction ("juicers"), comprised mostly of rednecks and soldiers from rural areas, listens to "Okie from Muskogee".

Sources

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References

  1. ^ [1] Janovitz, Bill, "Okie from Muskogee" at Allmusic
  2. ^ Wolff, Kurt, "Country Music: The Rough Guide," Rough Guides Ltd., London; Penguin Putnam, New York, distributor. p. 424 (ISBN 1-85828-534-8)
  3. ^ Janovitz.
  4. ^ Malone, Bill, "Country Music U.S.A," 2nd rev. ed. (University of Texas Press, Austin, 2002), p.371.
  5. ^ [2] Country Music Association Awards Database — Merle Haggard.

See also

  • Whitburn, Joel, "Top Country Songs: 1944-2005," 2006.
Preceded by
"To See My Angel Cry" by Conway Twitty
Billboard Hot Country Singles number-one single
November 15 – December 6, 1969
Succeeded by
"(I'm So) Afraid of Losing You Again" by Charley Pride

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