Merle Haggard turned in one of his finest album efforts to date in 1969's "Pride in What I Am."
This LP followed the release of three top ten albums in 1968, including the number one album, "Sing Me Back Home," from January, and a solid #4, Mama Tried album, released in September of the same year.
While "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am" was the only track on the album that was a hit, the album is certainly not lacking in strong material, as evidence by a respectible #11 placement on the US country album chart. The other selections may not be among his most celebrated songs, but they're all small gems that illustrate what a fine songwriter he is. "Pride In What I Am" may not be among his flashiest, but is another excellent record album by one of the most reliable recording artists in country history.
Merle Haggard wrote "I Take A Lot of Pride In What I Am" about being comfortable with who he was - he didn't care about what other people thought of him. The song is a first person narration by a homeless drifter who laments his lonely, rootless existence but at the same time celebrates "living off the side of our great land..." as he defiantly proclaims, "Things I learned in a hobo jungle are things they never taught me in a classroom."
Merle Haggard's "Fightin' Side of Me" live album was recorded on March 14, 1970 at Philadelphia's Civic Center Hall where Haggard drew a capacity crowd. The songs on this album are a good representation of a typical Haggard concert from the early seventies and this fifty year old album, remains my favorite Merle Haggard album in my collection.
Merle starts off the Album singing "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am" and although I enjoy this album because of all the great songs, especially his impersonations, this one tops my album song list. As you listen to this song from the video below, take notice the slight popping noise as the needle is lowered onto the record. It strikes a piece of dust or doesn't hit the record groove just right, proof positive by that slight pop or crackle you hear, that many of us still play vinyl records and albums.
The "Fightin' Side of Me," song was written and recorded by Merle Haggard for the capitol label, on December 23, 1969, at Capitol Recording Studio, in Hollywood, California. Merle was accompanied at the recording session by: James Burton (guitar), Roy Nichols (guitar), Tommy Collins (guitar), Norman Hamlet (steel and dobro), Chuck Berghofer (fender bass), Sam Goldstein (drums), Glen Hardin (piano).
The single was released on January 26, 1970, and reached # 1 on the charts of US Hot Country Songs, on May 14, 1970, remaining on the charts a total of 14 weeks. On April 4, 1970, it also reached # 1 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks charts. It was the ninth number one in Merle’s career.
The song was included in Merle’s second live album titled, Merle Haggard - The Fightin' Side of Me. The album was released on July 6, 1970, and on October 10, 1970, reached # 1 on the charts from US Top Country Albums, and remained a total of 41 weeks in the charts. The album was certified gold in the USA.
Country Music Promoter Carlton Haney introduces Merle, who opens up with this great hit...The Houselights blink, then dim. The crowd quiets. Then the intro and sound they've been waiting for...
This is Merle Haggard - Live!
More that 10,000 Country fans from as far away as Main, have come to see "The Okie." It's a Saturday night in Philadelphia's famous Civic Center Hall - radio station WEEZ's Country Shindig No. 18.
It's been a long journey for Merle but he's arrived. His records have all hit the top listings on the music charts. He's become a Country Legend, a man identified with some of the finest songs Country Music has to offer.
The applause shakes Philadelphia from one end to the other as the crowd responds to everything Merle feels, cheers him on, and is stirred by his talent and yes, his deep patriotic feelings that are expressed in "Okie" and "The Fightin' Side."
Merle Haggard found the love of a whole city of Philadelphia on this Saturday night. And with his songs he returns it all with interest.
A lot of good things happened to Merle Haggard in 1970, the year this album was released. He was both entertainer of the year and Top male vocalist of the year in 1970.
His previous album "Okie from Muskogee" was also voted album of the year and the title song was single of the year.
This is a fun vinyl record and shows Merle's talent with his impersonations of Country Legends no longer with us, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow and Buck Owens. You have to hear this LP Album live to appreciate how close Merle gets to sounding exactly like these great artists. They may be gone but owning this "Fightin' Side" album, will keep their memories alive. With exception to the lead song, it's hard to pick a favorite off this great album. Here are a few I believe you would enjoy.
While the tears on my make-up melts my painted smile into a frown.
The crowd thinks I'm a dandy I'm Bandy the rodeo clown...Read more.
Prettiest town I've ever seen,
Women there don't treat you mean.
The song seems to conjure up images of a romantic, almost mythic, corner of the American West in which cowboys still loom large on the landscape and long, desolate highways stretch uninterrupted into the western sunset. Read more...
Sammi Smith is another lady that made me appreciate what good country music is all about. Enjoy this wonderful Country cover by Sammi titled "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye." Read more...
Cattle Call was originally recorded by Eddy Arnold in 1945, and re-recorded in 1955, spending 26 weeks on the country chart, 2 of the 26 at #1. Forty years later, Eddy Arnold joined 13-year-old Texan LeAnn Rimes on a version of "Cattle Call" for her 1996 Curb debut album, Blue. Read more.
"Give me a old dusty dark bar with Patsy on the jukebox and a cold one at the ready. It just doesn't get any better than that." Read more...
"I was dancing with my darling to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see..
Introduced her to my loved one, and while they were dancing,
My friend stole my sweetheart from me"
Amarillo By Morning is a Rodeo ballad first recorded in 1973, but the George Strait version which came out ten years later is the one everyone knows and turned Strait into an overnight star. The whining fiddle arrangement will stay with you long after the song ends. Read more...