It has already been forty-seven years (May 16, 1969 to be exact), when Merle Haggard recorded one of the greatest songs of his career. It was in the very same year that he recorded “Workin’ Man Blues,” from his 1969 album, A Portrait of Merle Haggard.
“Workin’ Man Blues,” which had been a top hit, was composed by Haggard to be a homage to his faithful fans, lots of whom were blue-collar people working hard each week for a paycheck. With lyrics like, “I keep my nose on the grindstone, I work hard every day / Might get a little tired on the weekend, after I draw my pay / But I’ll go back workin’, come Monday morning, I’m right back with the crew / I’ll drink a little beer that evening / Sing a little bit of these workin’ man blues,” the track was Haggard’s way of telling his supporters that he fully understood and supported them.
“Workin’ Man Blues” hit the top spot of the Billboard charts on Aug. 16, 1969. It remained at #1 for one week, just before getting knocked out of the no.1 spot by Johnny Cash‘s “A Boy Named Sue.”
“Workin’ Man Blues” ended up being one of 38 No. 1 songs that “the Hag” produced throughout his profession. The track was listed on many of his collection albums, such as Songs I’ll Always Sing in 1977, 16 Biggest Hits in 1998 and 10 Great Songs in 2012. In 1994, Diamond Rio, Lee Roy Parnell and Steve Wariner recorded their own rendition of the song alongside one another for a recognition album called Mama’s Hungry Eyes: A Tribute to Merle Haggard.
Haggard died on April 6, 2016. At the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards just one month following the legend’s passing, Toby Keith played “Workin’ Man Blues,” together with a number of other Haggard hits, such as “Mama Tried,” “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” and “Okie From Muskogee.”
“Workin’ Man Blues” can be purchased for download on iTunes.