Wednesday, April 13, 2016

exceptionally true

Dictionary definition:


having a gaunt, wasted, or exhausted appearance, as from prolonged suffering, exertion, or anxiety; worn

related forms:

haggardly, adverb
haggardness, noun


When I was a child, I somehow had awareness of Merle Haggard. 

I don't know how, exactly -- my parents had no country music records at home, and the radio was rarely on. 

Maybe I saw him perform on a television variety show, or something...and I remember having a concept in my imagination that the name Haggard was also a word, "haggard," and that they sort of echoed each other. 

The name was reflected in the word which could be applied to the mood of his singing style (as I heard it) and the subject matter of his lyrics, and was maybe picked up in his appearance which I interpreted as somewhat grim. 

(And I don't mean that in a negative way, at all...)  Just the way it might look to a little kid who has no framework of expectations for country music, or grown-up singers from faraway places.

"Merrrr-ll.  Hagg - rrrrrd."

It's a rough and gravelly name, with growling R's, craggy hard-G's, and Don't-Mess-With-Me L's.  It goes very well, style-wise, with the lyrics and stories he gave us. 

Really, when you think about it in light of show-business considerations, if that hadn't've been his real name in the first place, a smart canny agent should have suggested adopting it as his stage name, anyhow!

How serendipitous to be born with a name perfect for your Life's Work.

I saw him in concert in the mid-nineties, at a State Fair. 

It was a terrific performance -- I went down in front of the stage with a bunch of others -- you could get up close if you wanted to, but in that case had to stand, there were no chairs up there.  One guy kept "requesting" (hollering) "Okie - From - Muskogee!!!!!!!!!" between songs. 

At first his enthusiasm seemed fun, but after a while, when he kept it up, it got a little obnoxious.  And I can't remember now whether Merle played "Okie" that night, or not. ...

Reuters obituary last week, written by Bill Trott, quoted:

------------------------ "Haggard's exceptionally true intonation, his command of varied vocal textures and his insinuating phrasing would make him a superior vocalist in any idiom," the New York Times said of Haggard in his prime.  "Like Muddy Waters in the blues field

and only a handful of other performers, he both embodies and transcends his rich American musical heritage." -----------------------


--------------------------"I can't remember when I haven't listened to him," said Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.  "Some of the best songs and best delivery you can get."


It says, ---------------------- Haggard was born April 6, 1937, near Bakersfield, California, the son of a couple who had been part of the exodus from Oklahoma's Dust Bowl during the Great Depression.  Haggard's father was a carpenter for a railroad, and the family lived in a converted boxcar. ----------------------


(And -- if you type in on Google,

"sing me back home keith"

there's Keith Richards with his cover of Merle's "Sing Me Back Home, on YouTube...)

My hat don't hang on the same nail too long
My ears can't stand to hear the same old song
An' I don't leave the highway long enough to bog down in the mud
'Cause I've got ramblin' fever in my blood

I caught this ramblin' fever long ago
When I first heard a lonesome whistle blow
If someone said I ever gave a damn, they damn sure told you wrong
I've had ramblin' fever all along

Ramblin' fever
The kind that can't be measured by degrees
Ramblin' fever
There ain't no kind of cure for my disease

There's times I'd like to bed down on a sofa
And let some pretty lady rub my back
And spend the early morning drinking coffee
And talkin' about when I'll be coming back

'Cause I don't let no woman tie me down
And I'll never get too old to get around
I want to die along the highway and rot away like some old high-line pole
Rest this ramblin' fever in my soul

Ramblin' fever
The kind that can't be measured by degrees
Ramblin' fever
There ain't no kind of cure for my disease, yeah

{"Ramblin' Fever" - written by Merle Haggard - MCA - May 30, 1977}


No comments:

Post a Comment