Merle Haggard performs “Mama’s Hungry Eyes” Live On Marty Stuart Show 2013.

It was the sixth number one of Merle's career, The song was one of the most famous of his career, and one of the most significant songs in the history of country music.

YouTube When The Cowboy Sings Channel
YouTube When The Cowboy Sings Channel

Mama’s Hungry Eyes:

Single cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )
Single cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )

A song written and recorded by Merle Haggard for the Capitol label, it was recorded on December 8, 1968, at Capitol Recording Studio, 1750 North Vine St., Hollywood, California. In the recording Merle Haggard was accompanied by: James Burton (guitar), Roy Nichols (guitar), Norman Hamlet (steel), Howard Lowe (bass), Eddie Burris (drums), George French (piano) and Bonnie Owens (vocal harmony). In this session three songs were recorded: Hungry Eyes, Every Fool Have A Rainbow and Silver Wings. With the production of Ken Nelson, the song was released on February 17, 1969, on May 10, 1969, it reached number # 1 on May 1969, in Canadian RPM Country Tracks, I get to number # 2.
It was the sixth number one of Merle’s career, The song was one of the most famous of his career, and one of the most significant songs in the history of country music.

The song was included Merle’s tenth studio album, A Portrait of Merle Haggard (Capitol 1969), the album was released on September 2, 1969, and reached # 3 on the Billboard Country albums charts.

“Hungry Eyes” is a tribute to Okies and others who lived in forced labor camps during the Great Depression, the time period in which this song is established. “It’s Haggard’s way of commemorating a whole generation of Okies that persisted during the persecution and suffering to transplant their culture to California.”

Lp cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )
Lp cover Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )

Some Versions :

Johnny Bush 1969 ( Stop Records )
Conway Twitty 1969 ( Decca )
Charlie Louvin 1969 ( Capitol )
Cal Smith 1970 ( Kapp Records )
George Jones 1972 ( Epic )
Emmylou Harris 1994 ( Arista )
Robin & Linda Williams 2002 ( Sugar Hill )
Leona Williams 2008 ( Ah Ha Records )
Kinky Friedman 2015 ( Avenue A Records )

Merle Haggard – Mama’s Hungry Eyes Lyrics

A canvas covered cabin in a crowded labour camp
Stand out in this memory I revived;
Cause my daddy raised a family there, with two hard working hands
And tried to feed my mama’s hungry eyes.

He dreamed of something better, and my mama’s faith was strong
And us kids were just too young to realize
That another class of people put us somewhere just below;
One more reason for my mama’s hungry eyes.

Mama never had the luxuries she wanted
But it wasn’t cause my daddy didn’t try.
She only wanted things she really needed;
One more reason for my mama’s hungry eyes.

I remember daddy praying for a better way of life
But I don’t recall a change of any size;
Just a little loss of courage, as their age began to show
And more sadness in my mama’s hungry eyes.

Mama never had the luxuries she wanted
But it wasn’t cause my daddy didn’t try.
She only wanted things she really needed;
One more reason for my mama’s hungry eyes.

Oh, I still recall my mama’s hungry eyes.

Single Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )
Single Merle Haggard ( Capitol 1969 )

Miquel Batlle
djmiquel@whenthecowboysings.net