Still Calling

country music

Remember the Maine!

Here’s a quick video I did today for Raw Story about the incident that sparked the Spanish American War, gunboat diplomacy, and the American Empire: the explosion that destroyed the USS Maine in 1898. I did a test run with the public domain song about the incident, but the singing took away from the text.…

This world can’t stand long

My buddy Fred and I used to sing this exact version a long time ago. I forget what the name of the album where we found it. I hadn’t thought about this song in years, but it sure seems relevant now. This world can’t stand long Be ready don’t wait too late We should know…

Merle Haggard was complicated

The only thing I can say about Merle Haggard that I know to be true -other than that, as a country musician, the man was a huge inspiration to me- is that he was a deeply complicated man.

Merle’s “White Boy” was inflammatory as fuck. No two ways about it, and I once quit a band because the racist drummer wouldn’t stop pushing this song on me.

But if “White Boy” was inflammatory, how do you think “Irma Jackson” went over with people like the racist drummer?

Could Merle be kind of a redneck? Sure. I’m not gonna link to “Okie from Muskogee” or “Fighting Side of Me”. You don’t need to hear those old chestnuts, anymore than you need to hear “Swingin’ Doors” again. But maybe you didn’t know that Merle was a big Hillary Cinton supporter in 2008, and equally impressed by Barack Obama:

It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.

What’s the biggest lie out there about Obama?
He’s not conceited. He’s very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we’ve had who come across like they don’t need anybody’s help. I think he knows he’s in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot.

Merle spoke for all of us working people, in all our beautiful, ugly, complicated glory. I miss him right now with all my heart.

Because now that Merle’s gone, who will sing for me? I have a lot more to say about this, by the way. Working on a post on the intersection between Merle and Lemmmy, two very different but very similar people.