A solo write by Merle, a true man of the people, he released it in May of 1969 as the second single from his A Portrait of Merle Haggard album.
The single shot to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart later that year, and became one of The Hag’s signature songs and biggest hits, and remains a fan-favorite to this day.
Of course, it’s been covered by countless other artists since then, like Jerry Lee Lewis, Lone Justice, Jon Wayne and Gary Morris, just to name a few.
A tribute to the hard-working, blue collar people that make America the great country that it is, Merle sings about working all week long and raising a family, and how he’d rather do it all the hard way than be handed anything:
“It’s a big job gettin’ by with nine kids and a wife Even I’ve been workin’ man, dang near all my life but I’ll keep workin’ As long as my two hands are fit to use I’ll drink my beer in a tavern And sing a little bit of these working man blues”
And in honor of today being Labor Day, enjoy your hard-earned day off and give this one a spin while you’re at it: