Skip to comments.Merle Haggard Tells It Like It Is (Merle Haggard meh on Obama, Romney)
Posted on 07/30/2012 3:17:16 PM PDT by nickcarraway
At the age of 75, country music legend Merle Haggard is unafraid
Whether the topic is the environment, immigration concerns or the state of country music in the new millennium, Haggard hardly needs an invitation to share his opinions. During the course of a half hour or so, Haggard easily proffered thoughts on how politicians, songwriters and television evangelists share myriad things in common. He's carved out a niche as an insightful and sometimes subversive social critic, and uses honesty to deliver his personal message. It doesn't damage his cause that those messages just happen to make up a massive chunk of the classic country songbook.
Consistent health issues have forced Haggard to reschedule gigs since discovering he had lung cancer in 2008. Never one to rest too long at his California ranch, which he's maintained for 35 years, the Country Music Hall of Famer is releasing records at a steady pace and hitting the road in an equally admirable fashion. His 2011 release Working in Tennessee and 2010's I Am What I Am are both fine examples of an artist with more left to say. Though both albums feature Haggard's signature combination of Western swing and Telecaster-rich Bakersfield country, it's his plainspoken lyrics and observations on the world that compel the listener to study his tunes and not merely hear them.
"I write a lot about current events and the condition of my family and the condition of the world, as well as the condition of our political scene," Haggard says from his ranch, nine miles north of Lake Shasta in Northern California. "These days, everyone can comment in so many ways, so I comment on all of these things with my music."
When speaking or singing about politics, your standard artist is going to pick sides, regardless of the singer's mostly peaceful intentions. In 2008, Haggard famously supported Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's failed run for the White House with the song "Hillary." This time around, however, Haggard is singing a different tune by not singing one at all.
"I've got to be honest," he says. "I met President Obama and he was a nice fellow, but I'm not going to vote for him, and I'm not going to vote for Romney. So, that leaves me without many options. I don't see much that I like in either of them. It's a tough world and I don't think either of them is capable of representing this country right now."
Haggard, who has had high-powered political figures courting him since the Nixon era, thinks candidates these days are too timid to speak about the matters that affect America in the most dramatic fashion.
"There are many things that present a bigger problem for this country than the Middle East right now," he says. "Neither [Obama nor Romney] wants to address them. They're purposely staying away from the economy, for example, and it leaves me kind of empty. I don't have a good prognosis for the country over the next couple of years."
Even though Haggard admits to feelings of fear for this country's immediate future, there's little else that fits into that category. He sees the advancement of technology and the Internet as the way in which fans from future generations will be able to cut through the current Top 40 cesspool and follow their hearts toward talent. Even though Haggard takes shots at the Music Row mainstream on Working in Tennessee's "Too Much Boogie Woogie," singing, "There's too much boogie woogie and not enough Connie Smith," he realizes an answer to such complaints already exists.
"The involvement of the Internet will help everyone get their proper due," he says. "More fans will be made because of it. The best talent will be found and people will discover Johnny Cash easier than they would have otherwise. Can you imagine a situation where Johnny Cash's career isn't being recognized?"
A bit of helpful yet profound advice from a famous friend many years ago has kept Haggard from being too worried about what people think of his views.
"Willie Nelson said to me one time, 'You might as well be yourself, because somebody just may end up liking you.'"
The way he sees it, being honest isn't about being bitter or hurtful. Haggard understands that truth can be expressed without torching every bridge you walk across.
"I don't ever want to insult anyone. I have six children, and if I brag about one of them, I might accidentally piss the other five off. In that case, I haven't really done anything wrong, but I've still offended them. I try not to do that with my writing, while still being honest and telling the truth that I'm trying to tell. Everything you say in the limelight matters."
In reality, it's not Haggard's open-book nature that makes him unique; there are plenty of pop-culture personalities who are more than happy to share and televise their thoughts. What makes Haggard's opinions worthy of attention is the same candid quality his songs have long carried, piercing directly into the hearts and lives of listeners everywhere. His songs are believable, and the way in which he writes them showcase an intimate honesty, which breeds authenticity.
"The only thing I know anything about is me. I've had a most interesting life, and as long as I write about it and give some melody to it, it'll turn out wonderful."
Even at that point, The Hag is still unafraid to admit he doesn't have all of the answers. But "over 15 years of intense Bible study" has given him a sense of what the world needs in order to find them.
"Faith is the only way we're going to make it. None of us are smart enough to do it on our own."
‘”Neither [Obama nor Romney] wants to address them. They’re purposely staying away from the economy, for example, and it leaves me kind of empty.’
Romney’s staying away from the economy?
“15 years of intense Bible study”
Yet he supported an abortion-loving, Jew-hating, Alinskyite Communist harpy. Amazing.
I remember hearing him saying he likes to fire people and he is not concerned for the poor.
Although he has some memorable classics to his name, every interview of Haggard I’ve ever read, I come away with the distinct impression he has rocks in his head. His views wander all over the map and never seem to connect.
As I said earlier and probably will continue to say. The GOP has misrepresentation themselves/their platform when they ‘selected’ Romney to represent them.
Would you be a Republican if they were for same sex marriage and socialistic healthcare w/abortion?
Either they ask Romney to step down or they are frauds and totally misrepresented themselves to the voters.
Back in medieval times, the entertainers were called court jesters and they sat at the servant's table at the royal court. They are good for a laugh or a diversion but don't be attributing any kind of special wisdom to them.
“Celebrities - is there ANYTHING they don’t know?”
I told him, “You and I have something in common: our wives are both taller than we are.” And he said “No! She’s got on 3-inch heels! And she is not that tall!” He was like me. He grabbed that real quick.
LOL. Bam can’t take even the slightest criticism.
15 years of intense bible study? Good for him..it was Gene Scott he studied under..Yes that Dr. Gene Scott.
“I remember hearing him saying he likes to fire people and he is not concerned for the poor.”
LOL - that’s right...thanks for the reminder.
Gene Scott - brilliant and crazy as a hammock full of bedbugs.
Thirty five years ago I was a big fan. Since then, MH has said such stupid things, he is now dead to me.
I was about to suggest he shut up and sing, but I’d really prefer he’d just shut up.
And would you be a Republican if they were for forcing adoption agencies to cooperate with homosexual couples who want to play "Married with Children"? Would you be a Republican if they were for the Global Warming Agenda and surrendering American sovereignty to international oversight on energy and food production and consumption in the name of "saving the planet"?
Because Romney's record has been one of advancing those very things.
Yes, pnsn, you put it well: would you be a Republican IF Republican meant being for all those things? Romney as a Republican is either FALSE ADVERTISING, or the Republican party has left many Republicans the same way the Democrat party left Ronald Reagan. It's tragic that so many Republicans are so ignorant of Romney's record that they don't realize the extent to which he has advanced all of the above. It's even worse that Romney's documented hard-core liberalism is a taboo subject in so-called "conservative" media, which instead is whipping up hysterical fear of Obama in order to justify voting FOR an agent of all of the above and making that guy the defacto head of the Republican party.
You are absolutely correct. Then man had the best mind I ever saw on theology..yet he was as crankers as any nut case out there.
RAINBOW STEW was about as socialist as you can get.
I love Haggard’s songs, but he’s always been on the left. Thankfully he doesn’t talk that much.
In the words of Zell Miller, I didn’t leave the party-—the party left me. In a BIG way.
Isn’t Haggard a pro-Hillary liberal?
Wait a minute - didn’t he turn 21 in prison doing life without parole?
Did they support NEWT who represents AMERICA and the GOP. NO!!
They are guilty of fraud and false advertising to the Americans voters. As, their 'chosen' one is, also!
The party changed and didn’t advise voters before they ‘chose’ Romney or since. Their website is still the same but they changed their platform of what they are about now. They are committing fraud, IMO.
No, he was in for stealing an automobile and it was for 2-10 years. He said 2-10 just didn’t work in a song like he ‘turned twentyone in prison doing life without parole.’ It was the syllables and cadence and gravitas of the lyric which compelled him to use the phrase he decided to use. Artistic license...that kind of stuff. But, it was a well written song, wasn’t it?
Yeah, and then he asked someone to “Sing Me Back Home’’ before he went to die. Can’t he make up his mind?
I think that Conservatives should openly and loudly start a third party starting today. We may not have viable candidates for this election, but they sure better believe that we will for the next one.
Yes, a very good song - really reaches out and grabs you!
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