Merle Haggard has passed away, but his musical legacy remains in the form of some of the most important songs in country music history.

The legendary musician was not only instrumental in creating the Bakersfield Sound that revolutionized country music in the 1960s with a harder-edged, less commercial alternative to the syrupy, string-laden arrangements of the Nashville Sound, he was also one of the most influential singer-songwriters the country genre has even seen. His vast catalog spans more than four decades, encompassing 600 songs, including more than 100 chart singles.

Haggard was perhaps best-known for his pro-American stances in early songs like "Okie From Muskogee" and "Fightin' Side of Me," but many of his most powerful and unique songs were drinking songs and song about loneliness and hard times, drawing upon Haggard's own early life and a stretch he spent in prison before music helped him turn his life around.

The country icon earned virtually every honor possible during his lifetime, earning induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, and culminating with recognition at the Kennedy Center Honors in in 2010. Though he created so many lasting and important works that it would require a book to properly chronicle them all, we've assembled some of his most essential lyrics in the gallery above. Click through to check them out, and let us know your personal favorites among Merle Haggard's lyrics in the comments section below.

Merle Haggard Dead at 79

Merle Haggard Through the Years

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