Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Merle Haggard, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”

“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”

Merle Haggard

Written by Merle Haggard


#1 (1 week)

January 10, 1981

After his No. 1 collaboration with Clint Eastwood, Merle Haggard released the solo single, “Misery and Gin,” which went top five.  His next single returned him to the top, and it’s one of the best singles of the decade.

Jimmy Bowen doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his talent as a producer.  He had a way of pairing veteran artists with the material they needed to regain their creative focus, and was also quite talented at helping rising artists identify a signature sound and a breakthrough hit to help them sell records.  “Strangers in the Night,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” “Whoever’s in New England,” “Gonna Take a Lot of River,” and “Outbound Plane” all became defining hits for their artists, so much so that identifying them by name isn’t necessary for even a casual music fan.

An important addition to this list: “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” a bar room anthem for a brand new decade that helped Haggard get his groove back after a bit of a creative and commercial dry spell.  Bowen wisely left the distinctive instrumental outro on the single serviced to country radio, knowing from his own experience as a record DJ that those longer records gave the radio spinners a much needed bathroom break.  The production is clean and clear, and sounds less dated now than many of the records we’re covering from this time period that were recorded by artists a generation younger than Haggard.

“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” set Haggard up for one of the biggest and best albums of his career, which would follow a final single from Back to the Bar Rooms (the top ten “Leonard”) and the top five title track from his 1981 live album, Rainbow Stew.   We’ll cover all three singles from that landmark album soon.

“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: The Oak Ridge Boys, “Beautiful You” |

Next: Dolly Parton, “9 to 5”


  1. 100 % agree. You ever just listen to an artist, musical part or intro and just smile in admiration? I’m all smiles when this one starts playing. This is one of the greatest drinking songs of all time.

  2. “Country Music” magazine’s Patrick Carr devoted a lot of space and energy into vilifying Jimmy Bowen’s influence on Nashville. For years, I simply adopted his stance as my own that Bowen was an evil interloper, the equivalent of producers Jay Joyce and Joey Moi today. Kevin’s list of Bowen produced artists, however, suggests such criticism is unfair and un-merited.

    I agree with Tyler that this is one of the greatest drinking songs of all time. I always thought this was a hit from the 70’s.

    I love the muscular, punchy honky-tonk production, complete with Hag’s signature use of Don Markham’s saxophone.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.