Merle Haggard Songs Ranked

Merle Ronald Haggard (April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016) was an American country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Haggard was born in Oildale, California, during the Great Depression. His childhood was troubled after the death of his father, and he was incarcerated several times in his youth. After being released from San Quentin State Prison in 1960, he managed to turn his life around and launch a successful country music career. He gained popularity with his songs about the working class that occasionally contained themes contrary to the prevailing anti-Vietnam War sentiment of much popular music of the time. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, he had 38 number-one hits on the US country charts, several of which also made the Billboard all-genre singles chart. Haggard continued to release successful albums into the 2000s. He received many honors and awards for his music, including a Kennedy Center Honor (2010), a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2006), a BMI Icon Award (2006),[1] and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977),  Country Music Hall of Fame (1994)[3] and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame (1997).[4] He died on April 6, 2016 — his 79th birthday — at his ranch in Shasta County, California, having recently suffered from double pneumonia. Here are all of Merle Haggard’s songs ranked.

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15. Are the Good Times Really Over (Big City, 1981)

“This song was recorded years ago but it seems to still hold true today. Merle Haggard was a true country singer and always sang songs that were true to heart. We will miss him and his music too.”

14. White Line Fever (Mama Tried, 1968)

“What could anyone say about Merle that hasn’t been said a hundred times over. The voice of the common man with anthem after anthem of the struggles. the triumphs, the patriotism and love of country. Several songs make you want to stand up and salute.”

13. Rainbow Stew (Rainbow Stew: Live at Anaheim Stadium, 1981)

“Great dance tune; clever words (exc the sun does now heat many homes in clear weather); with changes to some of the lyrics, the song could become an ironic lampoon of socialism.”

12. Sing Me Back Home (Sing Me Back Home, 1967)

“Sing Me Back Home” is amongst the most poignant prison songs with lyrics that hit right home. Also a manifest concerning the power of music. A classic that has been recorded by a several Country and non-Country acts here in its unbeatable version by the writer. “

See more: Merle Haggard Albums Ranked

11. My Favorite Memory (Big City, 2010)

“This is another great song by “The Hag” that shows his amazing talent as a musician, an awesome voice and remarkable songwriting skills. Most of his songs have absolutely phenomenal music including guitar licks that modern musicians want to copy.

10. Movin’ On (Keep Movin’ On, 1975)

“I have been enjoying this album. It is hard for me to not like any song he does. Great singer and his music will live forever. Very good song, I have always loved this song. I would recommend it to anyone who loves the old classics.”

9. I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink (Back to the Barrooms, 1980)

“I like Merle Haggard, and in this song he tells her off,in away I think a lot of guys would have liked to express, what he feels to her in this song. I believe that Merle, and his band, had a blast doing this song, you can tell by the way it jams!! .”

8. Kentucky Gambler (Keep Movin’ On, 1975)

“It was always easy to overlook country albums in the 60’s and 70’s, but Merle Haggard put out great albums from the very beginning. This one really only has one hit on it, but is still my favorite of all of his original albums.”

7. That’s the Way Love Goes (That’s the Way Love Goes, 1983)

“May possibly be the best album ever by this Hall of Famer. Merle usually writes all of his material but this title song was written by one of his early hero’s, Legendary Lefty Frizzell and Songwriter Hall of Famer, Whitey Shafer. Every song, top shelf with great production and mixes that won Merle a grammy for this album. As usual, every tune here exhibits Merle’s wonderful sense of belonging to every song. He feels every one and so does the listener when he’s at the microphone. A great production featuring Nashville studio musicians like Reggie Young featured on the guitar in this title track guided by veteran producer Ray Baker.”

6. The Fightin’ Side of Me (The Fightin’ Side of Me, 1970)

“Merle has recorded some of the best “Americana” songs. This is a good example of how more Americans should feel about their country. Love it or leave it.”

See more: Woody Guthrie Albums Ranked

5. Workin’ Man Blues (A Portrait of Merle Haggard, 1969)

“Workin’ Man Blues” is a vivid account of the blue-collar sweat-and-toil world that’s Merle’s bread and butter. Some upbraid his line about “never being on welfare” as insensitive to the true plight of the working man, but that’s missing the point. Whatever Merle’s politics, the song is simply a brilliant narrative of one man’s struggle.”

4. If We Make It Through December (Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present, 1973)

“This album was overlooked and still is by many Haggard fans. In 1973 Merle released “A Christmas Present”, a christmas album with the title track “If We Make It Through December”. Capitol records then used the hit song for another album the following year and titled the album by it. The rest of the material is classic Haggard. “

3. Pancho and Lefty (Pancho and Lefty, 1983)

“Townes Van Sant, a well respected songwriter in the Nashville community, wrote this song some time ago. Singers love his work and I suppose Willie and Merle decided they would be a good duet in producing their rendition of a song sung by many other famous artists including Emmy Lou Harris. This song, with a Spanish/Mexican flair, does not fit into any neatly established category or genre. It is just one of those unique story songs that come along once in a while that anybody can enjoy.”

2. Okie from Muskogee (Okie from Muskogee, 1969)

“An absolutely timeless and stunning lyrical (and melodious) portrait of the core values of one of the many cultures extant in this wonderful country of ours! Merle Haggard at his earthy country best! What more is there to say!”

1. Mama Tried (Killers Three, 1968)

“I honest-to-god believe that the whole reason that country music exists is to be a vessel for “Mama Tried”. And songs like it, of course, but there are very, very few of those*. I think often about the negotiation of the personal and the universal in songwriting, and “Mama Tried” just fully transcends that question: when you listen, the song is about you just as much as it’s about Merle.”