Country legend Merle Haggard dies on his birthday at 79

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 NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Country giant Merle Haggard, who celebrated outlaws, underdogs and an abiding sense of national pride in such hits as ``Okie From Muskogee'' and ``Sing Me Back Home,'' died Wednesday at 79, on his birthday.

Haggard was going to be on tour this week in Missouri.  He was set to play Cape Girardeau Thursday, Springfield Friday and the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis on Saturday.

Haggard's manager, Frank Mull, said the country icon died in Palo Cedro, California, of pneumonia.

A masterful guitarist, fiddler and songwriter as well as singer, the Country Music Hall of Famer recorded for more than40 years, releasing dozens of albums and No. 1 hits.

These are some of his top hits:

Here are the lyrics to Mama Tried:

The first thing I remember knowing
Was a lonesome whistle blowing
And a young'un's dream of growing up to ride
On a freight train leaving town
Not knowing where I'm bound
And no one could change my mind but Mama tried

One and only rebel child
From a family meek and mild
My mama seemed to know what lay in store
Despite all my Sunday learning
Towards the bad I kept on turning
Till Mama couldn't hold me anymore

And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried

Dear old Daddy, rest his soul
Left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Working hours without rest
Wanted me to have the best
She tried to raise me right but I refused

And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried

Here are the lyrics to Pancho and Leftie:

Living on the road my friend,
Was gonna keep you free and clean
And now you wear your skin like iron,
And your breath as hard as kerosene

You weren't your mama's only boy,
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye,
And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boy,
His horse was fast as polished steel
He wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel

Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico,
Nobody heard his dying words,
Ah but that's the way it goes

All the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness, I suppose

Lefty, he can't sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty's mouth

The day they laid poor Pancho low,
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go,
There ain't nobody knows

All the Federales say
We could have had him any day
We only let him slip away
Out of kindness, I suppose

The poets tell how Pancho fell,
And Lefty's living in cheap hotels
The desert's quiet, Cleveland's cold,
And so the story ends we're told

Pancho needs your prayers it's true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He only did what he had to do,
And now he's growing old

All the Federales say
We could have had him any day
We only let him go so long
Out of kindness, I suppose

A few gray Federales say
We could have had him any day
We only let him go so long
Out of kindness, I suppose

Here are the lyrics to Okie from Muskogee:

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don't take no trips on LSD
We don't burn no draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin' right, and bein' free.

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

We don't make a party out of lovin';
We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo;
We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy,
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.

And 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.

Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear;
Beads and Roman sandals won't be seen.
Football's still the roughest thing on campus,
And the kids here still respect the college dean.

We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA.