Upon its 1969 release, Okie From Muskogee, Merle Haggard‘s first live album, was an instant success. The LP became his fifth chart-topper and led to Academy of Country Music awards for Album of the Year, Top Male Vocalist and Top Vocal Duo (for his collaborations with wife Bonnie Owens). “My family on my mother’s side lived here for many years. and I think most all of my dad’s folks were born in between Checotah,” he said before finishing his set with the obstinate title track, which itself would take home Song of the Year. “Muskogee was a word and a town I’ve heard about ever since I was knee-high.”
Forty-five years later, the record will be re-released with another chart-topper, the long out-of-print The Fightin’ Side of Me, which will be reissued as a second disc. Recorded a year after Okie, Fightin’ Side finds Haggard in Pennsylvania, playing a set comprised mostly of covers, with the California singer giving his own take on Woody Guthrie‘s “Philadelphia Lawyer” and doing his best Johnny Cash impersonation (literally) when he sings “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Here, stream opener “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am,” a live rendition that increases the tempo of the original while staying true to its lyrics and arrangement. The most notable addition, in fact, comes from the fans in the crowd, some of whom hoot during lines like, “Never been nobody’s idol” and scream their approval every time he gets to the chorus.
The full reissue will be released on Capitol Nashville on March 25th.