How can you choose your favorite Merle Haggard song? Trick Question; you do not have to. Back in 1974, Haggard saved us that trouble by performing four of his hit songs in an incredible three-minute-medley. If anyone asks you, just say “Merle’s 1974 performance on Pop! Goes the Country.”
In the fast-paced, quick-changing medley, Merle Haggard started out with his hit song “If We Make it Through December,” but only briefly. Before even one minute passed, he transitioned into “Old Man From the Mountains Coming Home” with a lift of his guitar. His band followed with diligence.
However, that didn’t last more than thirty seconds before cruising on to the next one. Before the minute and a half mark, “Everybody’s Had the Blues” took over. This changed the pace nicely, slowing it back down to prepare for the grand finale. After a few lines of the blues, Merle Haggard and his band kicked right into his biggest hit at the time, “Okie from Muskogee.”
This final whirlwind brought the energy with it. Haggard spent more time on this hit than any of the other ones, playing it for over a minute. He sang the entire first verse and chorus for the cheering crowd. With that three-and-a-half minute medley, Merle Haggard saved all of his fans from having to choose their favorite song.
Toby Keith Plays Merle Haggard Medley
42 years after his Pop! Goes the Country performance, Merle Haggard passed away on his own birthday. On April 6 of 2016, Merle Haggard turned 79. That same day, he died of pneumonia complications. Just a few months after his death, Toby Keith played a beautiful medley of his songs in his honor.
Toby Keith’s medley was reminiscent of Merle Haggard’s 1974 performance in its uplifting feeling, however, the circumstances were quite sad. In this medley, Keith played “Mama Tried”, “Today I Started Loving You Again”, “Silver Wings”, and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.”