The Fightin' Side of Me

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"The Fightin' Side of Me"
Haggard - Fightin side.jpg
Single by Merle Haggard and The Strangers
from the album The Fightin' Side of Me
B-side "Every Fool Has a Rainbow"
Released January 26, 1970
Format 7"
Recorded December 23, 1969 (studio version)
Genre Country
Length 2:52 (studio version)
3:11 (live version)
Label Capitol 2719
Songwriter(s) Merle Haggard
Producer(s) Ken Nelson
Merle Haggard and The Strangers singles chronology
"Okie from Muskogee"
"The Fightin' Side of Me"
"Street Singer"

"Okie from Muskogee"
"The Fightin' Side of Me"
"Street Singer"

"The Fightin' Side of Me" is a song written and performed by American country music artist Merle Haggard and The Strangers. It was released in December 1969 as the first single and title track from the album The Fightin' Side of Me. The song became one of the most famous of his career.

In reference to his own 2002 patriot song, "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)," Toby Keith once called this song "the original Angry American song."


Like "Okie from Muskogee," "The Fightin' Side of Me" catered to the conservative working-man's values and politics; Bill Janovitz of Allmusic called the song "patriotic (if not outrightly jingoistic)."[1]

Here, the singer fills the role of a man frustrated with people deriding the country, particularly those who are "harpin' on the wars we fight" and "runnin' down my countrymen," a reference to the then-ongoing Vietnam War.[2] People who do this, claims the singer, are "walkin' on the fightin' side of me" and warns them that "if you don't love it, leave it."

Session personnel included Roy Nichols and Tommy Collins on guitar, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Sam Goldstein.

Chart performance and popularity[edit]

Like its predecessor "Okie from Muskogee," "The Fightin' Side of Me" immediately broke in popularity when released in January 1970. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart, where it remained for three weeks.[3] It also charted in the lower regions of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

In addition to the studio version of the song, a live version of "The Fightin' Side of Me" was issued as part of Haggard's live album of the same name.

Chart (1970) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[5] 92
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1


In 1970, "The Fightin' Side of Me" was nominated for Song of the Year and Single of the Year by the Country Music Association. The song did not win either award, with it losing the Single award to "Okie from Muskogee."[6]


  1. ^ Janovitz, Bill, "Okie from Muskogee" at Allmusic
  2. ^ Ace Collins, Songs Sung Red, White and Blue, New York: Harper Collins, 2003, pp. 75-79.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 146. 
  4. ^ "Merle Haggard Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  5. ^ "Merle Haggard Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  6. ^ Merle Haggard - Country Music Association Awards Database

Further reading[edit]

  • Collins, Ace. Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource, 2003. ISBN 0060513047

External links[edit]