I found out something this week. I must be the only person on the planet who didn't like Merle Haggard's music. Facebook has bombarded me with Merle Haggard tributes and I quickly scrolled past them thinking, "Why did you like him?"
I can remember hearing his songs as a kid on the radio and disliking them. He always sounded like some cranky old coot that would get ahead of you at the barber shop. Everyone would be forced to hear this loud-mouthed moron rant and rave about college students partying, teenagers with long hair playing rock music too loud, little kids watching cartoons on Saturday morning, instead of doing chores. Even I as a child, I knew I was intellectually superior to those old, white guys.
Likewise, Merle seemed to be against a lot of stuff: cities, The Beatles, long haired men wearing beads and Roman sandals, pacifist, people on welfare, people eating popcorn at Christmas time and Utopian governments that hand out complimentary, carbonated soft drinks to their citizens. Instead of "Mighty" Merle, he should have been "Cranky Negativity" Merle.
Granted, I can understand I those old, cranky, white guys liking Merle Haggard's music, but why did my former classmates from Lebanon R-3 Schools like him? I think it is a symptom of the problem of growing up in the Ozarks that I have talked written about before on this blog and the old blog, they were conditioned to like his music by the old, cranky, white people in charge. They were conditioned to think like the old, cranky, white people in charge.
I tried to tell them in back as far as junior high school, "YOU ARE TEENAGERS! YOU SHOULDN'T LIKE THIS CRAP! IT HAS FIDDLES AND DOBROS IN IT! YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO MUSIC WITH SYNTHESIZERS AND FUZZTONE GUITAR BY BRITISH GUYS WITH MAKEUP AND BLEACHED, SPIKED HAIR OR GUYS FROM CALIFORNIA WITH LOG HAIR IN LEATHER PANTS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? CAN'T YOU SEE THEY WANT YOU TO LIKE THAT MUSIC! THEY WANT YOU TO CONFORM AND BE LIKE THEM!" Sadly, they never listened. Now they are bitter mean-spirited adults, posting memes about the pleasures of being beaten with a belt by their fathers or how they don't think every kid should be given an award in sports.
There is only one song Merle Haggard I ever liked. He recorded a theme song for a mid-70s TV show called Movin' On, staring Claude Akins and Frank Converse as truck drivers named Will & Sonny. I remember my family enjoyed watching this program, which is sadly not on DVD. The theme song had a longer life on country radio stations playlist than TV show did (only two seasons).
Here are the opening credits with an abbreviated version on the song.