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Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?

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lefthanded guitar 22 Jul 10 - 05:59 PM
BobKnight 22 Jul 10 - 06:05 PM
GUEST 22 Jul 10 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,bankley 22 Jul 10 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,999 22 Jul 10 - 06:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Jul 10 - 06:32 PM
mauvepink 22 Jul 10 - 06:39 PM
michaelr 22 Jul 10 - 06:56 PM
GUEST 22 Jul 10 - 07:35 PM
beeliner 22 Jul 10 - 08:55 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 22 Jul 10 - 10:57 PM
katlaughing 22 Jul 10 - 11:15 PM
Art Thieme 22 Jul 10 - 11:24 PM
Janie 22 Jul 10 - 11:56 PM
DonMeixner 23 Jul 10 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,Janie 23 Jul 10 - 12:30 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 23 Jul 10 - 01:45 AM
Ebbie 23 Jul 10 - 02:16 AM
Janie 23 Jul 10 - 02:24 AM
GUEST,Mike Rogers 23 Jul 10 - 04:00 AM
BobKnight 23 Jul 10 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jul 10 - 06:24 AM
matt milton 23 Jul 10 - 06:50 AM
Wesley S 23 Jul 10 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,bankley 23 Jul 10 - 09:15 AM
Dave MacKenzie 23 Jul 10 - 10:20 AM
autoharpbob 23 Jul 10 - 10:41 AM
meself 23 Jul 10 - 11:39 AM
Lonesome EJ 23 Jul 10 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,bankley 23 Jul 10 - 12:34 PM
mauvepink 23 Jul 10 - 02:18 PM
DonMeixner 23 Jul 10 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,Mike 23 Jul 10 - 07:27 PM
olddude 23 Jul 10 - 09:11 PM
GUEST,Roger Knowles 24 Jul 10 - 06:58 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Jul 10 - 09:04 PM
C. Ham 25 Jul 10 - 08:29 AM
dick greenhaus 25 Jul 10 - 01:16 PM
dwditty 25 Jul 10 - 02:51 PM
lefthanded guitar 25 Jul 10 - 03:51 PM
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Big Ballad Singer 25 Jul 10 - 08:09 PM
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Subject: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 05:59 PM

Well I sat through MOST of PBS' hour and half documentary on this California bred 'Okie From Muskogee' determined to give the man a second chance (after writing Okie from Muskogee) and I still don't think all that much of the music. His story is somewhat impressive, coming from losing his dad as a youth, getting into jail and being inspired by Johnny Cash while in prison to going on to being one of America's best loved country singers.

But listening to his music, I don't think there was ONE song that I wanted to take away and sing for myself, or even hear again. His voice is as pleasant as seasoned wood, and his lyrics seems sincere, if not a little cliched. But I was truly struck by the dichotomy of his self-aggrandizing/pitying lyrics when I switched to ANOTHER competing documentary about Appalachia. Where the starkness and hard times of lives hewn out of those beautiful but rugged hills, from the pioneers to the heartbreaking trail of tears, was truly gripping.

Just can't understand why so many songsters I respect- like Gillian Welch- are hanging out flags for this guy. Am I missing something? Waddya think of ol' Merle?


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: BobKnight
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:05 PM

You're missing a lot - but hey, to each his own.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:19 PM

Mama Tried.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:20 PM

The Hag's great. A singer's singer. solid writer. Always worked with fine musicians like Roy Nichols on guitar.. He got a lot of his vocal chops from Lefty Frizzel.. if you get a chance, read his autobiography "Mama Tried"... it starts out with him waking up in St. Quentin prison doing time for robbery.. it works it's wake back from there and weaves one hell of an interesting story.

" When a president gets to the Whitehouse and does what he said he'd do
    we'll all be drinkin' that green bubble up and eatin' that rainbow stew"

....still relevant eh ?


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:26 PM

I`m with Bob, guest and Ron. Solid writer, even if he has the temerity to state his opinion in plain words. Good singer, too.


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Subject: Lyr. Add: California Cottonfields
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:32 PM

Merle Haggard sings of the starkness and hard times of the poor of Oklahoma, California, the cotton fields, the machinery and relationships that don't work.
Many poor were left behind long after the Dust Bowl days- these are the people he sings about.
NOT polished music, ragged and gaunt, talking of the losers in the race-

A good example is California Cottonfields

My drifting memory goes back to the spring of '43
When I was just a child in momma's arms
My daddy plowed the ground and promised someday we would leave
This run-down Oklahoma farm.

Then one night I heard my daddy saying to my momma
That he'd finally saved enough to go
California was his dream a paradise for he had seen
Pictures in magazines tha told him so.

California ottonfields----
Where labor camps were filled with weary men with broken dreams
California cottonfields----
As close to wealth as daddy ever came

Nearly everything we had was sold or left behind
From my daddy's plow to the soup momma canned
Some folks came to say farewell or see what all we had to sell
Some just came to skake my daddy's hand.

That model A was loaded down and California bound
A change of luck was just four days away
But the only change that I remember seeing in my daddy
Was when his dark hair turned to silver gray.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: mauvepink
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:39 PM

If memory serves was it not a Johnny Cash concert at San Quentin that really set his world alight?

For sure he has written some fantastic songs and it seems he certainly will never be short of inspiational material from his life's experiences

There are many brilliant singer songwriters who never have had the luck to be discovered and make it big. That is not their fault no more than it is the fault of some of the stars that they were discovered and have become become big. Some big stars have certainly launched others on their way in thanks for their own success. One can live in hope that more would be done by others to do the same.

mp


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Subject: Lyr Add: I'LL FIX YOUR FLAT TIRE, MERLE
From: michaelr
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:56 PM

I'll Fix Your Flat Tire, Merle (Nick Gravenites)

As I drove down on 65,
I was cruisin' down that old grapevine
Well, I must have been doin' at least about 95
Well out there on the side of the road all broke down
who do you think was standin' around
But the greatest country singer alive!

I'll fix your flat tire Merle
Don't ya get your sweet country pickin' fingers all covered with erl
'Cause you're a honky, I know,
but Merle you got soul
And I'll fix your flat tire Merle

Well I hear you had an adventurous youth,
makin' love in a telephone booth
And I even hear you did a little stretch in jail
But now you got a big ranch house with a bar
And eight, nine, ten of them fancy cars
And every other week a check comin' in the mail

I'll fix your flat tire Merle
Don't ya get your sweet country pickin' fingers all covered with erl
Oh, you're a honky, I know,
but Merle you got soul
And I'll fix your flat tire Merle

Now I heard all them records ya did,
makin' fun of us long haired kids
And now ya know we don't care what ya think...
But Merle, If you're gonna call the world your home
Ya know you're gonna have to get out and get stoned
An' it's better with a joint than with a drink, I think

So I'll fix your flat tire Merle
Don't ya get your sweet country pickin' fingers all covered with erl
Cause you're a honky, I know,
but Merle you got soul
And I'll fix your flat tire Merle
So I'll fix your flat tire Merle


Written as a response to "Okie from Muskogee"; recorded by Pure Prairie League


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 07:35 PM

Try and listen to him doing the Blaze Foley song "If I Could Only Fly".


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: beeliner
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 08:55 PM

I saw the show listed but didn't watch.

"The Old Man from the Mountain" is probably his best song. A little too risque to get much air play, though.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 10:57 PM

lefty, I agree, I just don't 'get it' regarding Merle Haggard either. But to some people he is just a lot more 'real' than the standard issue, there's more 'there' there. If you're surrounded by these rhinestone cowboys in nashville, he's a refreshing clod of real dirt.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 11:15 PM

Thanks, GUEST, here it is: If I Could Only Fly

One thing we've always loved about him, Willie, and a few others is we can always dance to them...a comfy, close, dance...love that voice.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 11:24 PM

Like Lefty, a great voice. His songs told stories that wanted tellin'. I do wish he'd seen value to more sparse acoustic renditions. Lefty's tribute album to Jimmy Rodgers was an under-arranged gem.

All that said, there was something in Cash's delivery and style that made me like the songs less when he was singing them.

Art


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Janie
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 11:56 PM

Merle sings real songs - stories about the real lives of real people.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 12:03 AM

Go to Youtube and listen to "If we Make it Through December." There are frew country songs better than that. Also see if you can find the Western Swing album he did with Asleep At The Wheel. Hag plays a pretty fair fiddle.

D


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 12:30 AM

If We Make It Through December

Read the comments posted to the video.

'nuff said.


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Subject: Lyr Add: HUNGRY EYES (Merle Haggard)
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:45 AM

Another Merle Haggard gem was "Hungry Eyes". It's pure Marxism.


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.

Themes: Class struggle;   Religion as the opiate for the masses; general indictment of capitalism.

(and he claims he wrote Okie from Muskogee as a joke).   

MInd you, I don't know how one could explain "The Fightin' Side of Me". But then, how many Americans are consistent in their politics.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 02:16 AM

I suspect that his and my views on politics wouldn't jibe but Merle Haggard has earned whatever views he holds.

I really enjoyed the special last night. It was well done, I think- although I don't like the final scene- and it presented him well with halo and warts alike. He said many memorable things- I liked when he said that the only thing he can write is his own life, that everything else would be fiction. In the process he speaks for us all.

It will be some time before I forget how he looked when he said that he sometimes dreams that he is back in San Quentin, doesn't know why he's there, can't find his way out.

And how he looked when he said that Reagan pardoned him.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Janie
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 02:24 AM

thanks for sharing that Ebbie. I don't have a television. Didn't understand this thread was started in response to something so recent (though it doesn't change my appreciation of his songs, if not his politics.)

Maybe Hulu will run the program at some time in the future so I can watch it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,Mike Rogers
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 04:00 AM

A fine programme about a great singer and songwriter who happened to have a damn good band as well.
A legend for sure.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: BobKnight
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 05:40 AM

Okie from Muskogee is all most folks know - listen to "Irma Jackson," and you may well change your mind about his red-neck status.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 06:24 AM

Merle is a massively, talented musical giant. Singer/songwriter/guitarist - even fiddler on occasion, what ever he does he does it beautifully. Indeed, he is probably the most gifted talent in the history of country music.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: matt milton
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 06:50 AM

"(and he claims he wrote Okie from Muskogee as a joke)."

That's not what he said in the documentary. Quite the opposite. In the documentary he made it quite clear he was sincerely behind the sentiments of that song.

He said he wrote it because he was pissed off with (middle-class) hippies protesting about something he believed they knew nothing about (the Vietnam war), something they did not have to fighting.

He said they knew just as little about it than he did and it was that, more than anything, which seemed to have annoyed him the most.

In other words, it was a kind of knee-jerk reaction of a song. I suspect he'd have had a lot more time for anti-war protests by soldiers, for example.

The (very) charitable interpretation of Haggard's motives behind that song would be ornery class war. The (very) charitable interpretation of the song itself would be that it's observation, and that it nails a certain point of view held by certain people in exactly the words they use.

My opinion of Merle Haggard is that, for post-1960s country music, he's pretty good, but that's really not saying much. Most post-1960s country music is rubbish.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Wesley S
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 08:40 AM

I understand that Merle wrote a song for Hillary Clintons presidental campain. That's not the most popular thing to do in Nashville. He's his own man. He's not the conservative he used to be.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 09:15 AM

Him and Buck Owens pioneered the Bakersfield sound out of California.. Fender Telecasters and all.. Nashville followed along to an extent..

one of his more recent songs is antiwar... "That's the News"

"Suddenly the cost of war is something out of sight
lost a lot of heroes in the fight
Politicians do all the talking, soldiers pay the dues
Suddenly the war is over, that's the news"


they don't make 'em like Hag anymore...
as George Jones would sing "Who's gonna fill their shoes ?"


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 10:20 AM

I remember another programme about Hag a couple of years back when he said that "Okie" was an attempt to see the world through his father's eyes.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 10:41 AM

Yes Dave Mac, that's the take I came away with too. I think we saw the same programme this side of the pond (UK) from the sound of it, I saw it straight after a programme called "Kings of Country" - and Merle seemed to hold his own really well in the company of Cash, Rodgers, Jones and Reeves. His voice really is pure syrup, so beautiful. I hate some of the arrangements that turn hard songs into soft ones, but I suppose that was the style at the time. I can certainly listen to more of Merle - though possibly not "Walking on the Fightin side of me"


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: meself
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 11:39 AM

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.


(Okay, here comes the smarmy little literary critic:) Sorry, Merle, you can't have it both ways: did Mama want the "luxuries" or did she only want "things she really needed"?


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 11:56 AM

I don't quite understand the objection, left-handed. I can appreciate both traditional old-time styles and singer-songwriter styles.
Do you have the same objections to Jimmie Rogers?
How about Woody Guthrie? Dylan?
I would put Merle Haggard in that league. I won't name any Haggard classics in defense of his legacy...there are too many to name.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 12:34 PM

" I wish Coke was still cola and a joint was a bad place to be
   back before Nixon lied to us all on TV
   before the Beatles and 'Yesterday', when a man could still work and still would,
   Is the best of the free life behind us now, are the good times really over for good ?"


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: mauvepink
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 02:18 PM

"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."

meself: I see that as Mama accepting there were things she would have liked to have but knew she never could have. She accepted her lot, in other words, as so many women have in the past, for being with the man she loved and knowing he was trying his best.

To some, too, food for the children can be a luxury. I suspect what folks from a 'poor background' would call a luxury would be very different from richer types.

... I still remember by 'Poppa' buying my 'Mama' a mecahnical wringer for her washing tub when I was a child and being delighted she could now wring the clothes out instead of doing it with her bare hands. She still washed with her hands and a stick to stir the clothes around but she was delighted at having such a help as her wringer.

mp


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 02:33 PM

Remember that Merle Haggard and anyone else in one brand of popular music or another have to ride the fence between creating art and creating a product to sell. It is great when an indiviual is skilled enough to do both most of the time. Haggard does it better than many.

D


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,Mike
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 07:27 PM

IF IT HAS TO BE EXPLAINED TO YOU, YOU'LL NEVER UNDERSTAND IT ANYWAY, EVEN IN A MILLION YEARS.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: olddude
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 09:11 PM

one amazing musician, songwriter and legend


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: GUEST,Roger Knowles
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 06:58 AM

He's one of the finest singers, writers and performers that I have ever had the privilege to hear.


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Subject: Lyr Add: GO HOME (Merle Haggard)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 09:04 PM

Go Home

In old Padres Nadres Old Mexico
Once in my travel I happened to go
I met Maria and we fell in love
It seemed like heaven came down from above
2
Dark skin and dark eyes and dark wavy hair
All kept me spellbound as love filled the air
I held her tightly then to my surprise
She whispered soft words with tears in her eyes

Go home go home, your people would not understand
Go home go home, go back to your own homeland.

3
With gentle persuasion I changed her mind
I said they'd love her and treat her so kind
So we went together to my old hometown
I wanted to show my old friends what I'd found.
4
But hate made my sweet dream a nightmare
One day I came home and she was not there
A note on the table tore my world apart
My old friends had been there and told my sweetheart

Go home go home, your place is not with this man
Go home go home, go back to your own homeland.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: C. Ham
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 08:29 AM

Mike Regenstreif on Merle Haggard.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 01:16 PM

It may help if you think of him as a rightward-leaning Woody Guthrie.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: dwditty
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 02:51 PM

Forget about political stance, the veracity of the songs, etc. I saw Merle in the mid-70's (I was the one without the powder blue leisure suit), and before or since, I have never seen/heard anyone sing so well with such little effort - pure, natural talent.

dw


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 03:51 PM

Ah well I appreciate hearing so many comments about Merle and thank you for your responses. I still love his voice, but I personally would NOT put him in the same league as songwriters like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and not coming close to Hank or Jimmy Rodgers (whom I laud and applaud and admire and feel are primal influences on most of the country, folk and rock music following them. )


I just dont' find his songwriting as strong as the giants; or even as many other less discovered and jmho more gifted 'coutnry style' talents (ranging from the likes of Libba Cotton to Townes Van Zandt, Chris Smither to yes, Gillian Welch herself.)

I may take another look at his music when I have some time, and appreciate all the comments sent in. But perhaps I find, in the pithy words of one poster, that he is a "right leaning Woody Guthrie" -an oxymoron at best, at least for me (sort of like saying Sarah Palin is a right leaning F.D.R.) I just hated the message and nasty-spirited polarizing effect of that song, Okie from Muskogee, and where I find Woodie's lyrics (and the songwriters I mentioned above) 'ring true ' for me, I am not so enamored of old Merle. Still like his voice tho, and may want to check out his CD devoted to Jimmy.

Well maybe I AM missing something, but truth be told, I was much happier hearing the plaintive ballads on the Appalachian documentary than Merle. I assume there must be something to the guy if so many people in mudcat rate him so highly.........but I just don't hear it.

I guess ya could just say............."Mudcat tried."


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 04:53 PM

Never having been an unflagging devotee of Woody Guthrie (although he has had many brilliant moments, along with bargeloads of dross), I think the comparison---two politically oriented country singers/composers--- to be an apt one. Sorry if you disagree.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: pdq
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 05:05 PM

Woody Guthrie..had many brilliant moments, along with bargeloads of dross...

The comparison of Woodie Guthrie and Merle Haggard seems quit on target.

Merle probably wrote more of his own melodies, too. BTW, I believe that Hag is a "blue collar Democrat", which is ususlly not considered "right-leaning", a term which would apply to Eddie Arnold, Roy Acuff and Gene Autry.


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Subject: RE: Review: Merle Haggard legend or laggard?
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 08:09 PM

There have been times when Merle has traded on that "legend" status and released some real dreck... and by that, I mean "new recordings of his legendary hits" that sound like:

"Let's go into a studio we can afford and cut new versions of my songs with really piss-poor production and sappy girl singers in the background so we can sell it as a limited-edition at Wal-Mart."

I have met Hag, however, and he is genuinely the real deal as a person and performer. There might not be ANYONE, Willie Nelson aside, who still embodies what it means to be a traveling, working honky-tonk singer than Merle. I watched him and his band set up at Tramps in NYC and come out on that crowded, dark stage and simply kick ass. Then I got to talk to Merle, Bonnie Owens and all the rest, and they are as grateful for their work and their fans today as ever.

God bless Merle Haggard... and everyone else who is the same off-mic as on. I hope he lives to see another generation of disaffected citizens in this nation stand up for what they believe in and affect real change. He will have been one significant catalyst to many of them.

Regards,

BBS


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Mudcat time: 23 June 2:08 PM EDT

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