Friday, April 08, 2016

Merle Haggard (1937-2016)

Merle Haggard, RIP, por Jesse Walker (Reason):

Haggard's most famous record—or infamous, in some circles—is "Okie from Muskogee," the Silent Majority's great culture-war anthem of 1969. At the time, people took it as a song for hardhats who hated hippies: Spiro Agnew mashed up with the Grand Ol' Opry. Years later, it became common to claim the tune was intended as a joke. When a man who smokes pot starts a song with the words "We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee," you have to wonder whether he was speaking for himself. And Haggard undeniably enjoyed his pot. "Son," he told one interviewer, "Muskogee's just about the only place I don't smoke it."

Haggard himself was always cagey about what he meant by the song, and the answers he gave to interviewers weren't always consistent with one another. But the best way to understand the record, I've long thought, is to take it as a dramatic monologue. "Okie" reports how a conservative character feels about the counterculture, and whether you take his views as inspiring or hilarious is up to you. The fact that it can work either way is a tribute to Haggard's skills.
Antes da Internet, só tinha ouvido uma vez essa música, numa viagem de autocarro de Lisboa para Portimão (mas é uma letra que fica no ouvido, mesmo que a reação do ouvinte seja "mas que reacionarice é esta!?").

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