HomeEntertainmentMusicMerle Haggard’s ‘Workin’ Man Blues’: Story Behind the Song

Merle Haggard’s ‘Workin’ Man Blues’: Story Behind the Song

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Kirk West/Getty Images

Longstanding country artist Merle Haggard never had to question “Are the Good Times Really Over.”

Haggard was a popular country singer, guitarist, and fiddler who was at his prime during the Great Depression. After a tough start to life with his father’s death and being incarcerated several times, he got his career rolling in country music.

Merle Haggard ‘Workin’ Man Blues’

He had 38 No.1 hits from the ’60s to ’80s. One of which was one of the highlight songs of his career, “Workin’ Man Blues.” This Merle Haggard and The Strangers song is a single from the album “A Portrait of Merle Haggard.”

This was one of the early peak songs of his career.

So, what is “Workin’ Man Blues” all about?

Well, it was about his fans. According to The Boot, the song was written as a tribute to those who cheer him on. Many of his fans are blue-collar workers who work in high-labor jobs for a paycheck every week.

The song is all about working hard every week and then getting tired every weekend. However, it’s all worth it for that end-of-the-week paycheck.

“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 country artist passed away a few years ago in 2016. As a tribute, Toby Keith performed ‘Workin’ Man Blues,” “Mama Tried,” “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” and “Okie From Muskogee.”

From Working Class to Upper Class

Merle Haggard came from a working-class family, but he grew to be much more than that. As an artist with nearly 40 top hits during his legacy, his paycheck was bigger than someone with their nose on the grindstone.

In this country, talent means power. For Haggard, the then California Governor Ronald Reagan pardoned one of the singer’s past crimes.

According to Taste of Country, the singer was jailed for an attempted robbery that resulted in a 15-year sentence way earlier in his life. Then, in 1972, Haggard was pardoned for the crime after a lengthy process.

“They found that I was improperly convicted and had no representation because I was poor and things of that nature,” Merle Haggard said at the time.

The two were a good pair. Haggard represented and gave tribute to his working-class fans. Reagan stepped into office in a time where working-class people needed help the most.

The concert event that happened after Haggard’s death is now available for streaming. The event, “Sing Me Back Home” features a lot of star-studded performances.