Image by Cool Text: Logo and Button Generator - Create Your Own

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

merle haggard

Bookmark and Share

Merle Haggard on America: ‘We Peaked Somewhere Around 1975′


A few years ago, Merle Haggard was diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly became the latest country music legend to be felled by the unforgiving combination of hard living and age. Haggard beat the disease, returned to touring and now, at 73, he’s the subject of a PBS “American Masters” special airing tonight.
The documentary, “Merle Haggard: Learning to Live with Myself,”  portrays a man trying to come to terms with a life that took him from a train-hopping delinquent to an ex-con to a country music superstar, thanks to hits like “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee.” Haggard has always been a deeply personal songwriter, re-working the major events of his life — his father’s early death, his hardscrabble childhood, the years he spent in San Quentin — again and again in his songs. And in the PBS film he’s surprisingly emotional — more tortured poet than rabble-rousing tough guy.
Speakeasy caught up with Haggard on tour in Canada to talk about the film and his new album, “I Am What I Am.”
The Wall Street Journal: In the PBS film, you say that what motivates you is trying to write that one great song. Haven’t you already written several?
Merle Haggard: It’s sort of like an athlete. Nobody wants to fight their last fight. You always feel like you’ll do your best the next time. It’s the same with songwriting. I just feel like maybe there’s a great song that might cover everything that I’ve done.
Your songs often draw on your early years. Why do you continue to explore that period?
You used the word explore. I was very, very young and everything was left to explore. Same with the conditions of the world; they were so raw and untouched and almost virgin, even though it was just 50 years ago. We’ve changed so much on this planet.
The first song on your new album — “I’ve Seen it Go Away” –- implies that both America and country music have peaked.
Maybe it seems that way to everybody and to every time period. But it seems to me we peaked somewhere around 1975. It was still a two-lane country. It was more localized. There wasn’t an identical situation on every commercial street, such as a Wendy burger and McDonald and a Taco Bell and a BP. Individuality still was in play. Radio stations got their request from a local audience. I don’t know what it did to film — I’m not much involved with it — but it sure changed music when you couldn’t call the radio station and say can we please hear so and so.
On another song you sing “Love is always lovely when it’s new.” What’s old love like?
Well, I’ve only had that experience once in my life and it happens to be now. I’m married to a girl I’ve been with since 1986. I never stayed with anybody that long, and didn’t intend to do it this time in my life but I’ve been blessed with this wonderful family. When people get married they’re positive about what they believe in. It’s a lovely thing. As it passes by, in some cases it turns into an old love that’s maybe richer. But there’s one thing for certain: 99% of the time it’s always great when it starts.
You’ve said that playing the White House in 1973 was a career highlight. Was the experience tainted because Nixon was president?
I understand that we were there the day he got word that he was possibly in serious trouble. So I didn’t get to see much of the reaction that might have been there if it was a few days later. We played for about 300 dignitaries. You know, the CEO of American Steel and his wife and so forth. Nixon was able to stand with me and his wife and my wife and introduce everyone in that room to me, and tell me about his legal education while I was in prison and had four or five stories going on and remembered everyone’s children’s names. He was magnificent with his intelligence. Maybe he was short on common sense.
Does modern country music speak to you?
In most cases –- 99% of the time — the subject matter is so shallow. Should you write something that would touch a nerve, that would be the first thing the big programmer jerks [off the air]. He don’t want anything that’s going to cause somebody to look up from their computer and bitch. [Someone at a radio station] told me that. He said, we don’t want them crying in their beer. That eliminates a lot of emotion, which is the beginning of the country song, I thought.
How’s your current tour going?
The roads and the bridges and everything are in such bad shape now that you feel like you’ve been in a fight with Muhammad Ali by the time you’ve arrived at the place to play. I had a driver who said, how in the hell have you f***ing done this for 40 years? I said, I don’t know Ray. It’s hard. But it’s a labor of love. So here I am.

See Also :

Norma Lopez Moreno Valley, Missing Girl’s Body Found

Vilsack Moves Into Full Damage-Control Mode After Sherrod Debacle (VIDEO)

Justin Bieber converts to scientology

Teenage Uses Craigslist to Swap Cell Phone for Porsche

‘Big Brother 12′ Recap: Why I Hate Rachel and Love Melorheostosis






No comments:

Post a Comment