The Captivating Tale Behind Merle Haggard’s Song “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”
Renowned country singer Merle Haggard, known for his heartfelt and relatable lyrics, found himself on a creative journey that led to the creation of his chart-topping hit, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” This remarkable song marked his 25th number one record, a significant milestone in his illustrious career.
Before the release of this song, Haggard experienced a fruitful period where he enjoyed great success with several Top Five singles. However, it wasn’t until four years after his previous number one hit that he reached the pinnacle once again with “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” During this time, Haggard’s talent and dedication were evident as he consistently produced outstanding music that resonated with his audience.
In the midst of his musical endeavors, two significant events took place that left an indelible mark on Haggard’s life and artistry. The first was his marriage to Leona Belle Williams on October 7, 1978, his third wife. Notably, Bonnie Owens, Haggard’s second wife, played a special role in the wedding as one of the bridesmaids. Just three weeks later, the newlyweds collaborated on a duet titled “The Bull and the Beaver,” which made its way onto the country singles chart, reaching an impressive position at number ten.
Despite his achievements, Haggard felt the weight of exhaustion and decided to step away from the music industry in early 1979. Seeking solace and inspiration, he retreated to his houseboat on Lake Shasta for a significant portion of six months. During this self-imposed break, Haggard continued to support his band financially, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to his craft.
Eventually, Haggard emerged from this period of introspection with renewed dedication, ready to share his music with the world once again. It was during this time that he crafted “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” a song that would become his 25th number one hit. This unique composition, which spanned four minutes and thirty seconds, featured two drummers and three impressive instrumental solos. The record label, MCA, had been urging Haggard to explore more uptempo songs, to which he amusingly responded, “I didn’t know we had speedometers on records.” Nonetheless, Haggard obliged and created a fast-paced tune that exceeded expectations.
The inspiration for “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” came from a casual conversation with a friend. Haggard often drew ideas for his songs from everyday encounters, and this occasion was no different. One evening, a friend reached out to Haggard, expressing a desire to visit his home. Unexpectedly, the friend declined the invitation, stating, “No thanks, I just wanted to call and say ‘hello.’ I think I’ll just stay here and drink,” before abruptly ending the call. Recognizing the lyrical potential of this phrase, Haggard quickly jotted it down and proceeded to craft the energetic song that MCA had requested.
Upon its release, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” swiftly ascended the charts, ultimately claiming the number one spot on January 10, 1981. This remarkable achievement became Haggard’s sole Billboard chart-topper during his tenure with MCA Records. However, it marked the beginning of a new chapter in his career as he signed a new contract with Epic Records, leading to an impressive streak of twelve more number one hits. This incredible accomplishment solidified Haggard’s legacy, positioning him as one of the most successful artists in the history of country music.
In conclusion, the tale behind Merle Haggard’s song “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” is one of resilience, personal growth, and artistic exploration. This captivating journey showcases Haggard’s ability to connect with his audience and produce timeless music that continues to resonate with fans to this day.
Album: Back to the Barrooms
Artist: Merle Haggard
Could be holding you tonight
Could quit doing wrong, start doing right
You don’t care about what I think
I think I’ll just stay here and drink
Hey, putting you down, don’t square no deal
Least you’ll know the way I feel
Take all the money in the bank
Think I’ll just stay here and drink
Listen close and you can hear
That loud jukebox playing in my ear
Ain’t no woman gon’ change the way I think
I think I’ll just stay here and drink
Hurtin’ me now, don’t mean a thing
Since love ain’t here, don’t feel no pain
My mind ain’t nothing but a total blank
I think I’ll just stay here and drink, yeah