The Story Behind The Song: “The Roots Of My Raising”

Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard

When “The Roots Of My Raising” reached the top of Billboard’s country singles chart on March 13, 1976, it marked Merle Haggard’s ninth consecutive number one hit, giving him 14 number ones among his last 15 singles. It was also Merle’s second chart-topper written by his friend Tommy Collins (the first had been 1972’s “Carolyn”).

Of “The Roots Of My Raising’s” nostalgic feel, Collins lamented that with all the modern-day entrapments, the simple way of life in America was eroding. In response, he started thinking back to his childhood, growing up on a farm near Bethany, Oklahoma. “The Roots Of My Raising” came out of those experiences.

Haggard and then-wife Bonnie Owens visited Tommy at his home in Bakersfield, California while “The Roots Of My Raising” was still a work in progress. Even in the song’s unfinished state, Merle knew he wanted to record it. The tune became the 23rd number one Billboard single of Haggard’s career. Future wife Leona Williams provided the female voice on the record.

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