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Merle Haggard performs "Mama's Hungry Eyes"Live On Marty Stuart Show 2013

"Hungry Eyes" is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard and The Strangers. It was released in December 1968 as the first single from the album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. The song was one of the most famous of his career.

 

During the late 1960s, Haggard released a series of recordings many critics have deemed to be not only some of his greatest works, but some of the most significant in the history of country music. "Hungry Eyes" — sometimes known as "Mama's Hungry Eyes" — is one of those recordings.

 

 "Hungry Eyes" is a tribute to Oklahomans and others who lived in labor camps during the Great Depression, the time period in which this song is set. "(I)t is Haggard's way of commemorating a whole generation of Okies who persisted through persecution and suffering to transplant their culture to California," Malone wrote.

 

"Hungry Eyes," whose somber tone underscored the hope-filled despair of its main subject, Mama, was a track on Haggard's 1969 album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. Music critic Mark Deming noted that the song was among three of Haggard's finest songs to appear on the album; "Silver Wings" and "Workin' Man's Blues" were the other two. "(M)ost country artists would be happy to cut three tunes this strong during the course of their career, let alone as part of one of six albums Hag would release in 1969," wrote Deming.

 

"Hungry Eyes" was released in February 1969, and reached number one on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart.

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 to 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


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