Workin' Man Blues

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"Workin' Man Blues"
Single by Merle Haggard
from the album A Portrait of Merle Haggard
Released June 30, 1969
Format 7"
Recorded May 16, 1969
Genre Country
Length 2:33
Label Capitol 2503
Writer(s) Merle Haggard
Producer(s) Ken Nelson
Merle Haggard singles chronology
"Hungry Eyes"
"Workin' Man Blues"
"Okie from Muskogee"

"Workin' Man Blues" is a song written and performed by American country music artist Merle Haggard. It was released in May 1969 as the second single from the album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. The song was released during his early peak and became one of several signature songs during his career.


"Workin' Man Blues" is Haggard's tribute to a core group of his fans: The American blue-collared working man. Backed by a strong electric guitar beat that typified Haggard's signature Bakersfield Sound, he fills the role of one of those workers expressing pride in values such as hard work and sacrifice, despite the resulting fatigue and the stress of raising a large family. He admits to relaxing during the off-working hours ("I drink my beer in a tavern, sing a little of these workin' man's blues.") and vows that as a result of keeping his values, he will never need to go on welfare ("... cause I'll be working, long as my two hands are fit to use.").

"Workin' Man Blues" was a track on Haggard's 1969 album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. Music critic Mark Deming noted that the song was among three of Haggard's finest songs to appear on the album; "Silver Wings" and "Hungry Eyes" were the other two. "(M)ost country artists would be happy to cut three tunes this strong during the course of their career, let alone as part of one of six albums Hag would release in 1969," wrote Deming.[1]

Session Personnel: Lead vocals, lead guitar: Merle Haggard Guitar: James Burton, Lewis Talley. Bass: Chuck Berghofer. Drums: Jim Gordon.

Chart performance[edit]

"Workin' Man Blues" was released in July 1969, and reached No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart.

Chart (1969) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1

Cover versions and other songs[edit]

In 1994, country music band Diamond Rio, along with guitarists Steve Wariner and Lee Roy Parnell, recorded a cover of the song, crediting themselves to Jed Zeppelin. This cover, included on a tribute album called Mama's Hungry Eyes, charted at number 48 on the Billboard country charts, and a music video was made for it.

Daron Norwood recorded a Christmas-themed parody entitled "Workin' Elf Blues" for the Giant Records album Giant Country Christmas Volume 1, with the parody lyrics written by Ken Forsythe, Jim Moran, and Tim Johnson.[2] This version went to number 75 on the country charts in 1995.[3]

Use in popular culture[edit]

The song was featured in the Simpsons episode, "Lost Verizon" while Bart collects golf balls at a country club for money.



  1. ^ [1] Deming, Mark, A Portrait of Merle Haggard at Allmusic
  2. ^ Parisien, Roch. "Giant Country Christmas, Vol. 1". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (August 2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 302. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)"
by Charley Pride
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

August 16, 1969
Succeeded by
"A Boy Named Sue"
by Johnny Cash
Preceded by
"True Grit"
by Glen Campbell
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

September 27, 1969
Succeeded by
"Invitation to Your Party"
by Jerry Lee Lewis