Three of country music’s most promising traditionalists just paid an awesome tribute to Merle Haggard. Cody Johnson, Mo Pitney and William Michael Morgan all teamed up to sing “Okie From Muskogee.” The intention? To honor the song going platinum 26 years ago on Dec. 3.
The Hag’s infamous 1969 song defined his career and the counterculture country movement in the early 1970s. It’s probably one of his most well-known songs, not to mention the most talked-about, covered and parodied. The song went No. 1 on the radio and earned Single of the Year honors from the CMA Awards. The record of the same name also won “Album of the Year.”
“I’m pretty sure I can speak for all three of us sitting here,” Johnson says at the beginning of the video. “That without Merle Haggard I might not be playing music. And I think the world was a better place for him.”
The trio then launches into the song. Johnson takes the first vocal duties, but they all trade off verses and join in on the chorus. It’s a wonderfully done and touching tribute. Watch the performance above.
Johnson, Pitney and Morgan have all sung Merle Haggard’s praise throughout their careers. Heck, Mo Pitney even has a song called “I Met Merle Haggard Today.” And when you see him live, he tells a pretty excellent story about the encounter.
Johnson shared the video on Sunday and it immediately caught fire. In a day, the video already has more than 570,000 views, 5,800 reactions and 6,500 shares. Johnson is currently finished out the year with a few more shows in support of his most recent album, 2016’s Gotta Be Me.