Friday, June 02, 2017

"another class of people put us somewhere just below"

So sang Merle Haggard in his classic track Hungry Eyes, recorded in 1969. Most music journalists don’t ‘get' Haggard because he could be both (small c) conservative and also working class, and in journalist-land these do not go together.

This might be because most journalists are middle-class, white collar and left-leaning. But not the old-time left, the new and supposedly improved version which is apparently ‘progressive’. But it is more likely because Haggard doesn’t fit easily into the pre-cooked ‘boxes’ that many writers come to any subject already armed with. Try this from Rolling Stone in 2016 just after Haggard’s death. And Slate ran this piece. Haggard could be many things to many people, just like Robert Burns had been. Most of the interesting people I have met don’t easily fit into boxes.

I’ve never been in a ‘canvass-covered cabin in a crowded labour camp’. But still sometimes I get a lump in my throat as Haggard unfolds the story of poverty and struggle, a mother’s sacrificial love and a father’s life of hard work to try to support the family. Of unfulfilled yet still faithful prayer, of parental age and decline, and of a child’s reflections and pained realisation that life had dealt them a tough hand, and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it.

'...I guess my opinion is all out of style
Don't get me started because I can get wild ...
We're just some of many that can't get no respect
Politically uncorrect ...'