I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee,
A place where even squares can have a ball.
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
And white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all.
"Okie from Muskogee" (September 1969), co-written with Roy Edward Burris, for Okie from Muskogee (October 1969)
I've lived through 17 stays in penal institutions. Incarceration in a penitentiary. Five marriages, a bankruptcy, a broken back, brawls, shooting incidents, swindlings, sickness, the death of loved ones and more. I've heard tens of thousands chant my name when I couldn't hear the voice of my own soul. I wondered if God was listening and I was sure no one else was.
One of these days when the air clears up
And the sun come shining through
We'll all be drinking free bubble up
And eating some rainbow stew.
"Rainbow Stew", on Rainbow Stew Live at Anaheim Stadium|Rainbow Stew Live at Anaheim Stadium (July 1981)
Look at the past 25 years — we went downhill, and if people don't realize it, they don't have their fucking eyes on. In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now. I mean, there was nobody going to throw you down on the side of the road spread-eagled, and look up your butt for a fucking marijuana cigarette. God almighty, what have we done to each other?
I had different views in the '70s. As a human being, I've learned… I have more culture now. I was dumb as a rock when I wrote 'Okie from Muskogee'. That's being honest with you at the moment, and a lot of things that I said … I sing with a different intention now. My views on marijuana have totally changed. I think we were brainwashed and I think anybody that doesn't know that needs to get up and read and look around, get their own information. It's a cooperative government project to make us think marijuana should be outlawed.
He cultivated an appreciation of musicians that seemed more appropriate to a jazz bandleader. … Even more arresting than the band was Haggard’s phrasing, which contradicted almost every precedent. Clear-toned, sinuous and shockingly free of twang and vocal affectation, Haggard sang with a sensitivity that bordered on tenderness. … Haggard has long referred to his music as “country jazz,” and is the only country musician to have appeared on the cover of Down Beat, the definitive jazz publication. Over the years, he has developed a definition of the term that reflects his nostalgia for a moment in history that preceded genres, when figures like Emmett Miller, Milton Brown and Django Reinhardt seemed to draw out of the air a music that defied classification. “I realized that jazz meant that you could play anything,” says Haggard. “It meant that you were a full-fledged musician, that you could play with Louis Armstrong or Johnny Cash.”