04/06/2012 10:23 am ET Updated Jul 28, 2014

Merle Haggard's Birthday: 7 Songs In Honor Of The Country Music Legend's 75th (VIDEOS)

On this day, 75 years ago, legendary country music singer Merle Haggard was born. For the younger generation, who may not be privy to the classics put forth by Haggard, commonly known as "The Hag," just know that he was country music in the sixties and seventies.

Haggard inherited his musical ability from his father, who passed away when Haggard was a young boy. The death took a toll on the singer and he turned to rebellion, leading him to a series of stints in jail. But ultimately, music pulled him away from his troubled youth and into the country music scene in his home state, California.

Haggard’s hard, bluesy sound and themes of struggle hit home with an audience that was begging for a dose of reality. His sound inspired many after musicians him, but as always, Haggard was led by the beat of his own drum and shied away from the poppy trends in modern country music.

The Kennedy Center, which honored Haggard in 2010, quotes Bob Dylan to describe Haggard's genius. "Merle Haggard has always been as deep as it gets," said Dylan. "Totally himself. Herculean. He definitely transcends the country genre."

In honor of his birthday, here's a good dose of classic Merle -- the songs that define his nitty-gritty sound.

Merle Haggard