Cody Johnson, Mo Pitney and William Michael Morgan Team for Awesome Merle Haggard Tribute [Watch]
Country singer Cody Johnson recently teamed with Mo Pitney and William Michael Morgan for a three-man rendition of Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee."
Released on Johnson's Facebook page, the three country artists performed Haggard's timeless tune, taking turns on main vocals and harmonies throughout the song.
In the video, Johnson explains why the three got together for the one-song tribute: "We're here on December 3rd to celebrate 'Okie from Muskogee' going platinum in 1991," he says. "I'm pretty sure I can speak for all three of us sitting here that without Merle Haggard, I might not be playing music, and I think the world is a better place for him, so here's to that."
Haggard originally released "Okie from Muskogee" in 1969, meaning it didn't reach platinum status (one million units sold) until nearly 22 years after it was released. The testament to the slow-burn longevity of the song lies in how it has now become a staple in the catalog of country music.
Watch Cody Johnson's' Live Version of "On My Way to You"
Haggard co-wrote the song with Roy Edward Burris, and according to an interview with the Boot, Haggard wrote the song after watching Vietnam War protests.
"During Vietnam, there were all kinds of protests," Haggard said. "Here were these [servicemen] going over there and dying for a cause -- we don't even know what it was really all about -- and here are these young kids, that were free, b---hing about it. There's something wrong with that and with [disparaging] those poor guys. We were in a wonderful time in America, and music was in a wonderful place. America was at its peak, and what the hell did these kids have to complain about?
"These soldiers were giving up their freedom and lives to make sure others could stay free. I wrote the song to support those soldiers."
"Okie from Muskogee" spent four weeks at No. 1 on the country charts in 1969 and also won Song of the Year at the 1970 CMA Awards.
Photos of Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard Dead at 79