Monday, April 11, 2016

MEMORIAM - Merle Haggard 1937-2016

"Remembering Merle Haggard, outlaw legend of country music" PBS NewsHour 4/6/2016


SUMMARY:  Merle Haggard rose to country music stardom singing about what he knew best: poverty, prison and heartache.  He died Wednesday on his 79th birthday.  William Brangham looks back at the singer's life.

MERLE HAGGARD, Musician:  I guess I will just always be the old country singer, you know, the guy that sings about all the things that happen.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  Merle Haggard rose to country music stardom singing about what he knew best, poverty, prison, heartache.  Born near Bakersfield, California, Haggard was raised in a converted railway car, the only home his parents could afford.

He was 9 when his father died, and before long, he turned to petty crime and landed in San Quentin Prison, where he saw Johnny Cash play.

DON CUSIC, Belmont University:  Merle Haggard lived outside the Law and got thrown into prison for it.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Don Cusic is a historian of country music at Belmont University in Nashville.

DON CUSIC:  If ever there was a poster boy for prison reform and prison rehabilitation, Merle Haggard would be exhibit A.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Haggard turned to writing his own music after his release in 1960, and eventually scored hits with “The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde” and “Sing Me Back Home,” which was an ode to his time in San Quentin.

VINCE GILL, Musician:  Merle would find prison stories.  He would find a single parent, a single father in holding things together, fight inside of me sticking up for our country.  Just — he was unabashed about telling the truth.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  That came through most famously in Haggard's 1969 hit “Okie From Muskogee,” which became a kind of conservative anthem at the height of the Vietnam War.

No comments: