I’m proud to be an Okie.
Norman is not quite Muskogee, and I’ll be the first to tell you that Oklahoman is the appropriate term for anyone not from the Sooner State, but we always take exception to Merle Haggard.
Yes, Haggard is from California. But the country star is as Okie as the rodeo and farmlands that populate my homeland.
His legacy goes beyond those borders, but that’s what 38 No. 1 singles will do.
The show Haggard performed at the Classic Center was an experience people will not soon forget.
That being said, there was no theatrics that were show stopping.
He kept the conversation rather minimal, and the show was over by 9:30 p.m.
But everything that the eclectic crowd came for, it received.
It had all of the elements of a country show. The heart-breaking songs which are appropriate for Single Awareness Day, the rowdy fans dancing and cheering and the hint of simplicity that comes with the culture.
When Haggard came on stage with his band, The Strangers, the theater inside the Classic Center erupted.
The Poet of the Common Man went through all of his hits. “Mama Tried,” “Silver Wings,” “Today I Started Loving You Again” — to name a few — all before ending with “Okie From Muskogee.”
And the crowd gave Haggard its undivided attention. That would be because of who he is and the fact he continues to perform for fans across the nation.
He was not your typical country singer, nor did he do things in the Nashville style. Because of that rebellion, his music is immortalized.
It was the familiar voice sailing through the acoustics and it was the raw sound everyone was paying attention to.
There was an understanding that this was not going to be a typical run of the mill show. The man performing on stage is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and a Kennedy Center honoree.
And while that was a factor of the show, everyone in the crowd was listening to the repertoire of songs that got him to that level.
The show just proves when your music captivates an audience, the fancy setup and accessories other artists have don’t mean anything.