“Okie from Muskogee” by Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard is one of the greatest talents in all of Classic Country, but this is easily his worst hit song. It’s an insufferably self-congratulatory ode to the socially conservative, basically designed to stroke the prejudices of his target audience in the 1960s. There were plenty of worse Country songs in that era (“Little Green Apples”, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”, etc.), but even if it became one of his biggest hits, this song is definitely unworthy of Haggard’s reputation (it’s worth noting that even Haggard himself was thoroughly ashamed of it in later years). If you want to explore Haggard’s work, try seeking out “Mama Tried” or “If We Make It Through December” instead. And if you want to hear someone taking Haggard’s self-righteousness down a peg with a healthy dose of brutal honesty about what really goes on in backwards Southern communities, check out Kinky Friedman’s hilarious parody “Asshole from El Paso”.

Verdict: Bad

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