If I could have given the Donald Trump campaign one piece of advice, it would have been to play Merle Haggard during and after his rallies instead of The Rolling Stones.
Let’s continue this review with the understanding that it is politically neutral — not taking any sides here. This is just an honest observation based on an in-depth listen to “The Best of Merle Haggard.”
Songs such as “Okie From Muskogee,” “Workin’ Man Blues” and “The Fightin’ Side Of Me” seem much better representations of the president-elect’s message than the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
“Fightin’ Side” is a song about defending the country against critics. The message in “Workin’ Man Blues” is self-evident. And working men and women are a group of people Trump vowed to defend.
This suggestion for campaign background music is far too late and, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
(Politically correct revisions to Haggard hits: Change “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee” to “We smoke Marijuana in Muskogee, but only for medicinal and recreational purposes”; Replace “Man” in song title “Workin’ Man Blues” with “Human.”; Change song title and lyrics of “Fightin’ Side Of Me” to “The Slightly Agitated But Willing To Compromise Side of Me.” )
Someone once told me they thought Willie Nelson’s voice sounded like an instrument.
That didn’t seem like a major breakthrough, as a voice is often considered an instrument. But upon closer listen to Nelson — and fellow country crooner Merle Haggard — I am beginning to see what my friend meant by the comment.
If you listen to these voices, there is a quality about them that brings to mind a guitar or some other instrument being played. This is entirely different from how Peter Frampton made his guitar “talk.”
It’s hard to describe with words. I recommend picking up a copy of Nelson or Haggard’s work — on vinyl, of course — and focus on their voices. I have recently acquired some of their albums and will talk about specific songs in future reviews.
They certainly have unique voices — and they know how to play them. Unfortunately Haggard died in April at age 79.
(Some other good voices and an unsolicited endorsement: If you are looking for a different take on the holiday classics, pick up a copy of a Straight No Chaser Christmas album. The a cappella group features great voices and a funny twist on some of the best holiday songs.)
The last time I wrote about country music was after I listened to a Joe Diffie single.
Let’s go back a few decades.
I recently pulled a Merle Haggard single out of a stack of records in a used vinyl store. Readers who enjoy most of the rock music I write about likely would have discarded the old piece of plastic and moved on. I, however, am an old Haggard fan.
“Big City” is one of my favorite Haggard songs and was luckily on the single I found. I always found Haggard’s voice to be unique, sounding almost like an instrument.
I guess, of course, the voice is an instrument. Merle’s reminds me of a guitar.
It’s good listening.
(A fact from Merle: Marijuana is not smoked in Muskogee, nor are trips taken on LSD.)