Haggard Merle has one of the best voices, if not the best, that has ever existed in all of country music.
He pioneered the genre and released many classics throughout his storied career that we all know and love to this day.
On this date in 1970, he released his hit “The Fightin’ Side of Me”, which turned out to be a pretty political catch during the Vietnam War years of the early 70s.
Written solo by Merle, it was released in 1970 as the lead single and title track from his album of the same name and became one of his signature songs, eventually reaching No. 1 on the Billboard US Hot Country Songs less than two months. later. .
At the time of its release, it was controversial for the fact that (most) country artists had remained fairly apolitical in terms of the content of their songs during the war.
When Merle released “Okie From Muskogee” (which went to number 1 the year before in 1969), it was the first of its kind from such a massive country star, especially given the populist take and patriotic nature while many artists had completely opposite takes. and feelings about the war.
Merle’s label really wanted to follow up the success of “Okie” with another patriotic song, and although Merle wanted “Irma Jackson” as his next single, he ultimately gave in to the label’s wishes.
It was an extremely stark contrast to a lot of rock songs and anti-war sentiment coming from bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival at the time with lyrics like this:
“I hear people talking badly
About how they have to live here in this country
Harpin’ on the wars we fight
And I know how things should be
And I don’t mind if they switch sides
An’ stand up for the things they believe in
When they roam our country, man
They walk on the fighting side of me”
Over time, Merle drifted away from politics and when he publicly commented on such matters, he played it very shy and never got too far into his opinions on most topics. People still wonder to this day whether or not “Okie” is a satire or not.
But putting aside the political nature of the lyrics in the context of the early ’70s, they’ve resonated with fans for many other reasons over the decades, and of course, it’s one of his hits. timeless: