Merle Haggard 006

merle haggard thumb

Merle Haggard 006

Look closer for four song titles: I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink; Mama Tried; Okie from Muskogee; That’s the Way Love Goes

Merle Ronald Haggard

Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937 and died on April 6, 2016.

Haggard was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the twang of the Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles where the words are minimal, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville sound recordings of the same era.

Haggard’s childhood was troubled after the death of his father, and he was incarcerated several times in his youth. He managed to turn his life around and launch a successful country music career, gaining popularity with his songs about the working class that occasionally contained themes contrary to the prevailing anti-Vietnam War sentiment of much popular music of the time. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, he had 38 number-one hits on the US country charts, several of which also made the Billboard all-genre singles chart. Haggard continued to release successful albums into the 2000s.

In 1969, Haggard released “Okie From Muskogee”,with lyrics ostensibly reflecting the singer’s pride in being from Middle America where people are considered patriotic, do not smoke marijuana, take LSD, burn draft cards, or challenge authority. In the country music documentary series Lost Highway, he elaborated: “My dad passed away when I was nine, and I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about somebody you’ve lost and you say, ‘I wonder what so-and-so would think about this?’ I was drivin’ on Interstate 40 and I saw a sign that said “19 Miles to Muskogee”. Muskogee was always referred to in my childhood as ‘back home’. So I saw that sign and my whole childhood flashed before my eyes and I thought, ‘I wonder what dad would think about the youthful uprising that was occurring at the time, the Janis Joplins…I understood ‘em, I got along with it, but what if he was to come alive at this moment?”

Haggard began performing the song in 1969 and was astounded at the reaction it received. . . There was an unanticipated adulation racing through the crowds now, standing ovations that went on and on and sometimes left the audience and the band members alike teary-eyed.

-credit Wikipedia

The artwork:

Each illustration is tied to a non-profit fund raiser. The first print of this illustration was sold in a silent auction at Threadgill’s downtown. Merle Haggard’s Birthday Bash was to benefit the Austin Songwriter’s Group in April of 2016. The benefit was always scheduled close to Merle’s birthday every year. Sadly, two days later, Merle passed away.

Digital Print on Archival Matte – Original illustration done in graphite and prismacolor
Artist: Tobin Bortner of Bastrop, Texas – drawing done in March of 2016 – ©Tobin Signs/Look Closer Illustrations

DERIVATIVE Work – photo credit:

What you get:
$40 (36.95 + 3.05 tax)
11 x 14 Print Package with Authenticity Sheet
signed and numbered (run of 30)
Domestic Priority Mail $8
(Free shipping)

Merle Haggard 006

They may sound tired, but they don’t sound Haggard.


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