Thursday, June 29, 2006

Merle Haggard

From the man that sang Oakie From Muskogee over thirty years ago, which became an anthem for the "Silent Majority" against the 60s flower children, comes some interesting thoughts about life in today's United States:

You had a duet out this year with Gretchen Wilson called "Politically Uncorrect." The lyrics go, "Nothing wrong with the Bible, nothing wrong with the flag, nothing wrong with the working man." That doesn’t seem to be particularly controversial or politically incorrect.
Yeah, but what is nowadays? Everybody’s twisted around. Freedom ain’t free no more. What America was and what America is is a totally absolutely different country.

It’s a different country now compared to when and what?
Fifty years ago there was as much freedom in San Quentin as there is in the streets of New York today, with obvious exceptions. You’re just as likely to have a police officer throw down on you with a .30-30 [rifle] in New York as you are in San Quentin.

There was certainly a lot more political music a generation ago than there is today. And your songs have always had a bit of a political edge. Do you see music as political force or tool?
I wrote songs like “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” “Okie from Muskogee,” “Are the Good Times Really Over”—several different politically oriented things. I’m actually not afraid to do things of that nature nowadays, but my wife and family are. You have to take seriously one’s wife who says “I know you’re not afraid, but consider me and the family. Please don’t say those things.” That is how much we’ve changed in this country. If you do something like Springsteen did, they’re liable to come and bring the IRS in on you. That’s the absolute truth, and everyone knows it.

Read the whole thing.

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