Merle Haggard Gets Going With “The Fightin’ Side of Me”

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Here’s a glimpse into country music history — a rare Merle Haggard live recording of “The Fightin’ Side of Me” from a 1970 concert in Pennsylvania. The track will be available digitally for the first time on Tuesday (March 25) as part of a new collection, Okie From Muskogee Anniversary Edition.

Haggard recorded a 1969 concert in Muskogee, Okla., for Okie From Muskogee, a live album titled which captured him at the zenith of a remarkable country career. Just one year later, the tapes rolled on another show, this time at the Philadelphia Conventional Hall. The subsequent album, The Fightin’ Side of Me, has been out-of-print for about 40 years. Remastered from the original analog tapes, both shows will be packaged together for the release.

After an opening theme, Haggard gets the 1970 show started with “I Take a Lot of Pride in Who I Am,” another defiant classic in his rich catalog. He also offers a medley of other people’s hits, ranging from Marty Robbins’ “Devil Woman” to Buck Owens’ “Love’s Gonna Live Here.” Of course, the crowd wouldn’t let him off the stage without a rousing rendition of “Okie From Muskogee.”

To close out his set, he chose “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” a No. 1 country hit in 1970. Hey, if you’re going to sing a patriotic anthem, you might as well do it in Philadelphia. For the record, he received a standing ovation from 10,000 fans, according to the radio announcer who eagerly describes Haggard’s interactions at the foot of the stage as the recording fades out. Certainly, he earned it.

Check out Merle Haggard’s 1970 performance of “The Fightin’ Side of Me.”

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