Pick of the Day: Merle Haggard

I can’t really count myself as a fan of Merle Haggard. It’s not that I dislike him. More that I’ve never really listened to him much. The song I know him best for is “Okie From Muskogee”. I probably first heard it when I was in high school, and he more or less lost me with the first line.

I’ve lived in Saskatchewan all my life. And I must say, it hasn’t been easy. Am I proud to be from, to quote Haggard, a “place where even squares can have a ball”? Not really, no. I’m not a big flag waver either. And couldn’t ever envision myself submitting to being drafted by my government to fight in a war I didn’t believe in.

 I can’t speak to Haggard’s original intention when he wrote “Okie From Muskogee” back at the height of counter-culture insurgency in the late ‘60s when Richard Nixon was in the Whitehouse and the U.S. was fighting a major war in Vietnam and homosexuality was illegal and racism and sexism were legally sanctioned and … well, you get the idea. But after what we’ve been through in the last forty years it totally reads as satire for me.

 Satire on a bunch of narrow-minded people who are having trouble coping with modernity, and are wanting desperately to revert back to a time when life, for them anyway, was a whole lot simpler. With some things we have to deal with now, like Walmart Death Stars and other mega-big box stores, and outsourcing of virtually every job imaginable to low-wage jurisdictions with no leverage to enforce quality environmental standards, I can’t say I’m entirely unsympathetic. But overall I’d much rather see things move forward a hell of a lot faster than they currently are. And the “Okie” segment of our society is definitely holding things back.

 If I had the cash, and tix were available, and it wasn’t at the Casino, I’d totally check this show out. Haggard plays there again tomorrow night too. Here’s video from 1997 of him performing “Today I started Loving You Again” (YouTube)

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

2 thoughts on “Pick of the Day: Merle Haggard”

  1. Of course it’s satire. Haggard lives on an acreage and grows his own pot. It’s a sad situation when people from Saskatchewan who are considered liberally educated or left-leaning (or whatever) and “anti-Okie” are so dismissive of music with a twang, country music that wasn’t written by someone named Tweedy or Parsons. Haggard is a legend. Too bad he’s playing the casino, though.

  2. What’s wrong with the Casino Show Lounge? It’s downtown, it’s got comfortable seating, the best sound in town and friendly staff. Unless it’s gone seriously downhill since 2006, it’s probably the best place in the city to see someone like Haggard.

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