Friday, April 8, 2016

manly footwear, and the Family of Man

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don't take no trips on LSD
We don't burn no draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin' right, and bein' free. ...

There was one song Merle Haggard had, called "Okie From Muskogee" -- it ticked some people off, and delighted many others, for different reasons -- that's what art does...

And so when perusing Reader Comments on the New York Times' Haggard obituary, the Comments related to that song, I thought, were collectible for a post of their own...

> >  Lou Good   Page, AZ


He was one of the few country artists whose music resonated with almost everyone even though you got the feeling he couldn't have cared less.  Including hippies.  We loved to sing along with many of his tunes but "Okie From Muskogee" was a particular favorite.

"Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear.  Beads and Roman sandals won't be seen."

So, so many good honest songs.

A truly original man and musician.  Thanks, Merle.  But "The Hag Lives" in his timeless music, and will forever.

> >  Bryan   Chicago
I saw him at Riot Fest in Chicago this year.  Despite the fact that the crowd was entirely composed of rock and punk fans who were jockeying for a primo spot for System of a Down (who would be playing next on the same stage), Haggard won everybody over with his musicianship.  He got huge applause even when singing songs like "Okie From Muskogee"...

> >  cass county
One of the greatest.  this liberal enjoyed his songs and his singing.  his songs will live forever.  God bless merle and all okies.

> >  JR   CA
Check out the lyrics from Okie From Muskogee, then get back to me.

> >  Mercedes M.   Wisconsin

Haggard was interviewed by The Onion's Audio Visual Club.  During that interview, he referred to himself as "an idiot" when he wrote "Okie From Muscogee."

He's being too hard on himself.  Even a commie-loving anti-Vietnam War leftie like me smiles when I hear that song;  "...beads and Roman sandals won't be found..."

> >  Glen   Texas
JR, Merle was no stranger to marijuana when he wrote and recorded the song.  He was, though, an astute observer of the societies that the family of man divides itself into.  "Okie" is an anthem to one of them, without being a condemnation of another.

> >  manta666   new york, ny

"Okie" ... one of the best back-of-the-bus musicians jokes ever ... and it went straight to Number One!
Is this a great land or what?

> >  Tom   Finley
Having come into this life in the Muskogee General Hospital, I can attest that the lyrics in "Okie from Muskogee" are true and correct.  Merle got it right. ...

> >  Air Marshal of Bloviana
I'll never forget listening to a woman sing that with a rather strong accent while enjoying a few London Lagers at a small pub in Karachi.

> >  Look Ahead   WA

Forgot to mention the old classic Okie from Muskogee, in which Haggard mocks sandal wearing, pot smoking, draft card burning Vietnam War dissenters while celebrating the innocence and purity of flag waving, White lightnin' drinking square dancers.

After the debacle of the Vietnam War and 3 million dead, that song doesn't sound so funny anymore.

> >  manta666   new york, ny

relax, dude ... the war is over and merle was a great American

> >  Patrick Regan   Santa Monica, CA
Merle's voice broke through all the rock genres in the 60's and distinguished itself quietly yet defiantly.

It was "uncool" to listen to country then but when I heard "Okie from Muskogee" there was no doubt that "Hag" was putting us on.

So many great songs usually credited by mistake to other writers were written by Merle Haggard.  "Today I started loving you again" comes to mind.

> >  Nuschler   Cambridge
In a 2010 Rolling Stone interview Merle Haggard had this to say after meeting President Obama:

"It's really almost criminal what they do with our President.  There seems to be no shame or anything.  They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he's doing certain things that he's not.  It's just a big old political game that I don't want to be part of.  There are people spending their lives putting him down. ...

I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake.  His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me.  They made a special effort to make me feel welcome.  It was not at all the way the media described him to be."

Merle Haggard just keeping it real.  We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee
We don't take no trips on LSD
We don't burn no draft cards down on Main Street
We like livin' right, and bein' free.

We don't make no party out of lovin'
We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo
We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy,
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.

And I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee
A place where even squares can have a ball.
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
And white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all.

Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear
Beads and Roman sandals won't be seen.
Football's still the roughest thing on campus,
And the kids here still respect the college dean.

I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee,
A place where even squares can have a ball
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse
And white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all

And white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all

In Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA.

> >  JTFloore   Texas

my favorite haggard story is about his youth when he and a young friend got drunk and broke into a bar -- that was still open.

over the years he evolved into a patient, philosophical guy who was not strictly wedded to the somewhat harsh, surface messages that some saw in the sardonic "Okie From Muskogee" and "Fightin' Side of Me" during the divisive Vietnam era when they were recorded. 

in a couple of interviews I had with him, he thoughtfully said of "Okie":  "It was an obvious thing to write about.  I was surprised nobody else had...  some things are in there because it's what I believe, and some of its there because it's just a song."

> >  Jon Silverberg   Brooklyn

...I like to think I have a story that would have made Merle laugh:  in the late spring of 1970, about 100,000 people traveled to Washington D.C. to (almost all peacefully) demonstrate against the invasion of Cambodia (as part of the ongoing Vietnam War)...

I was a graduate student in political science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and my department organized a bus trip to DC for the event...on the way back, the buses stopped at a truckstop off I-95 in Virginia so we could eat....the truckstop had a jukebox, and the jukebox had "Okie from Muskogee" on it. 

I think Merle would have appreciated the scene: 

100 or so young folks, some looking very much like hippies, roaring the lyrics out to a very bemused group of truckstop regulars...

Merle, the obituary says in later years you regretted writing the song...just know that we appreciated the song for what it was, a terrifically-crafted true expression of your feelings at the time, and although it may have sorta kinda been aimed at us, we loved you anyway, and still do...

> >  Empee107   SLC
Beautiful tribute.

{"Okie from Muskogee" - written by Roy Edward Burris and Merle Haggard.  Producer:  Fuzzy Owen.  Label:  Capitol.  September 29, 1969}


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