Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Another hero

I was glad to see Bob Dylan taking on the great Merle Haggard as his opening act in his recent tour. I wish I could've been there when, after the Beacon gig in NYC, Hag sat in with Les Paul at his club gig.

Love this R. Crumb sketch of Merle.
I scanned it from a New Yorker a few years back.

All too many people have this misperception of Haggard as a spokesman for the mythic pro-war right-wing hardhat during the Vietnam era. As concerns both the hardhats and Haggard, the reality is much more complicated. (For more on the hardhats, see Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States). "Okie from Muskogee" was a joke. Get it? "Muskogee's about the only place I didn't smoke it," he said in a 2000 Salon piece. As as for being a knee-jerk anything, well, he just ain't. This quote came nearly a year before 9/11 and the Patriot Act, but it's about as good a summary of the state of civil liberties in America as I've read.
"Look at the past 25 years -- we went downhill, and if people don't realize it, they don't have their fucking eyes on. In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now. I mean, there was nobody going to throw you down on the side of the road spread-eagled, and look up your butt for a fucking marijuana cigarette. God almighty, what have we done to each other?"

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