Wild Country: Hippie Loving Country

Country music has a reputation for despising the 1960s counterculture, largely due to Merle Haggard's 1969 Hippie-kicking redneck anthem "Okie from Muskogee." Haggard was ambivalent about the song, going back and forth on whether it was meant literally or as parody, and, as you will see, he sometimes wrote rather sympathetic songs about hippies.

He wasn't alone. He's a partial list of country songs that gazed at the Hippi counterculture with affectionate and sometimes jealous eyes, and a few songs by hippies who became obsessed with country music, and told their own stories to the sounds of strings and pedal steel.

“Mohair Sam,” Charlie Rich (1965)

Funk, sax-blasted celebration of a hippie lothario. “Chicks are making reservation for his loving so fine,” Rich sings with what sounds like unvarnished envy.

“Hippie Boy,” The Flying Burrito Brothers (1969)

Organ-drenched, spoken word country gospel by the hippiest of country rock bands. The singer meets a hippie, who pleads for tolerance. He then tells of a box of ashes: a murdered boy.

“Big Time Annie’s Square,” Merle Haggard (1971)

Bouncy and mellow, Haggard tells of tracking down an old girlfriend in California, where she has become a major hippie. Her friends grudgingly accept him, and he vaguely tolerates them.

“Hairy Ass Hillbillies,” Jerry Jeff Walker (1972)

The troubadour of outsiders tells of a gang of long haired southerners gathered in the Tropicana Hotel as an impromptu support network for each other. Pounding pianos and soul backup singers makes the song very Sunset Strip.

“Uneasy Rider,” Charlie Daniels (1973)

Hard to believe Daniels, now one of the most bonkers of right wingers, sang this song casting himself as a hippie in a bar in the Deep South. Speaking over a slide guitar, he spends the song in terror of being brutalized by rednecks.

“The Cowboy and the Hippie,” Chris LeDoux (1991)

Twangy country tune about the two title characters meeting while hitchhiking. First suspicious, they discover they have a lot in common, including being a little stinky.


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