It’s never a bad time to throw it back to some good, old-fashioned Merle Haggard.
One of the things that helped Merle first get started in the country music world was quickly capitalizing on successful singles. The positive response for Haggard’s 1969 hit song “Okie from Muskogee” caused the country artist to rush out a live album built around it.
He and his band “The Strangers” did the exact same thing in 1970 when his patriotic song “The Fightin’ Side of Me” did well with country music fans.
That’s why Merle and the Strangers rushed to record the live album of the same name in February of 1970 and release it in July of the same year.
The full album was recorded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the city’s Civic Center Hall on Valentine’s Day, and featured a track list full of original songs, covers, and Haggard impersonating the likes of Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, and Hank Snow.
And on this date in 1970, Haggard’s second live album “The Fightin’ Side of Me” was number one on the country charts, along with the song’s title track. The song of the same name was Haggard’s fourth straight number one country hit, and even made a run on the pop charts as well.
What made the song, and the album, so popular? Some might say that it was the political charge that the song had, specially going against the counterculture that was present in the United States when the song was released.
The song’s lyrics didn’t shy away from calling some people out:
“I hear people talking bad about the way we have to live here in this country, Harping on the wars we fight, and griping ’bout the way things oughta be And I don’t mind ’em switching sides, and standing up for things they believe in When they’re running down my country, man They’re walking on the fighting side of me…”
Pretty typical stuff from Merle Haggard there, as well as in the rest of the live album.