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Thinking about Merle this morning.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Toto'sDad, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Merle Haggard might, or might not be at the top your list as a musician. To me though, he told of a time and place that I've written about here on the forum many times. People today have so many nets to catch them when they fall, it's doubtful they ever experience abject poverty the way that Merle, and people like me who were of his era did. It was a time when if you didn't work, you didn't eat. When if you didn't have a way of making a living, you might not make it.

    I know Merle loved his family, all of them but he loved his momma something special. He often spoke of her, and wrote about her. The living in a canvas covered cabin in a labor camp is something I did, not heard about. I know we have our own kind of homeless now, but their problems are something entirely different. The times I'm talking about were when your were ready, and willing to work, but there was no work. When you didn't work, that backbone went to rubbing your belly button.

    This song really reflects a time that most of you will have never known, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but my living through those times really helps me to understand what Merle was trying to say in his songs. This is one of his best efforts in that vein.

     
  2. 4 Cat Slim

    4 Cat Slim Friend of Leo's

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    Merle wrote and provided the kind of insight you can only get from having lived through an experience
    and spoke so directly.
    My memories dim as time passes. but i can remember only slightly better times.
    I don't especially like to talk about the distant past, and nieces and nephews and their children
    don't especially care to hear my stories. Oh well...
     
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  3. BelairPlayer

    BelairPlayer Tele-Afflicted

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    My Dad, seventy-six in December, tells many stories like those. I know they traveled farm to farm to doing hard labor when Okie was a dirty word still.

    He tells stories about being left with his brothers to dig up and stack potatoes. They’d inevitably start throwing them at one another. When his dad would come to gather them in the evening they were always surprised that he could tell they had been throwing potatoes at one another. Later he realized they all had big starch marks were the potatoes were splattering on them.

    He also used to tell us at Christmas we had no idea how lucky we were. He said one year all he got for Christmas was a bigger cotton sack and an expectation that he’d fill it.
     
  4. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    My dad told stories about growing up without a father. His dad didn't run away. He died leaving my Nana a widow. My father and his brother walked the Long Island Railroad tracks picking up coal to heat the bungalo they lived in. That's a small wood frame structure suitable for the summer, not the winter. My dad made sure that my brother and I grew up working class, not destitute and impoverished. I can only imagine what it was like for him and his brother but he never complained about it. My kids grew up the children of professional parents, an engineer and a school psychologist. They can't conceive of a life where you don't have more than you need, more, even, than you deserve.
     
  5. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    luckily for me, I was able to break the trend or mold if you will. I had one failed marriage, but it was short lived. The marriage did produce a son, but eventually we would become very close after the divorce. We had many, many good times together before his passing, and I have no regrets other than wishing every single day of my life that he had lived. The second marriage was a complete success. I was the bread winner until our children were grown, then my wife worked for a while, and was successful in her own right.

    When I talk about breaking the mold, usually when you come from a broken home, you perpetuate that status in your own relationships. I realized second time around I HAD to make it if I wanted a normal life. We had a few trying times along the way, but too few to mention. We've never "broken up" nor had a spat that lasted more than a few hours. Our children never wanted for the basics of life, and as I grew more successful in my work life, they had things I would never have even dreamed of. Both my son's children were showered with every imaginable toy when they were children. My daughter was never blessed with children, but I'm sure they would have fared well if she had.
     
  6. Tommyd55

    Tommyd55 Tele-Holic

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    I have two lifetime favorite male singers.. Merle is one of those..
     
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  7. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    When things started really picking up for us monetarily, we purchased a home with a beautiful backyard with included a huge patio and swimming pool. The kids were big enough at the time to have a vote on buying the place. I was worried sick from my own experience of barely surviving childhood from falling into canals and such. Young son was by this time on the swimming team at school so I wasn't worried about him, but my daughter was a concern. I remember we sat down on the curb out by the mailbox that had a huge brick planter around it, and had a "talk." I told her I was deeply concerned about her not being able to swim. She was pretty cool, I think she was twelve, she said, how about I take swimming lessons, and stay out of the pool until I learn to swim? I thought it over, and said deal. Momma signed her up for lessons, she took to it very well, and in short order she was swimming in the backyard pool.

    The day they handed us the keys for the house, my wife went back over to our old house to pick up the kids. I couldn't resist, as soon as she left, I stripped down and dived in the pool! I can't begin to tell you how I felt having been a dirt poor share croppers kid from Alabama, being in my own pool. I hurriedly got out of the pool and got dressed before they got back.

    Me and my old man when we got to California.

    Me and Boo (2).jpg
     
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  8. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Telefied Ad Free Member

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    One of the greatest songwriters in American history. Regret that I never saw him.
     
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  9. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    TD, I love to hear you pontificate about things. You've got a gift sir.

    I was the 3rd of 4 out of a Air Force Master Sgt. and a housewife. We never had much but we always had enough. And an Air Force Base was a good place to grow up in the 1960's with one exception: no father. He was either flying over the North Pole in readiness to bomb Russia or carpet bombing peasants (his words) in Vietnam. By the time he was able to spend time with us most of us were in our teenage years and he didn't know quite how to relate. So we fought a lot. But we got through it.

    As Merle used to sing...

    "No amount of money could buy from me
    The memories that I have of then
    No amount of money could pay me
    To go back and live through it again"

     
  10. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I love Merle, and my Dad’s family were from California.
    My paternal grandparents were from Bakersfield/Oildale.
    They were ranchers.
    I feel a strong connection to the area, and Merle.
    My Dad, born in 1932, was a little like Merle.
    He was small, tough and, uh, perfectly willing to “scrap”, as he put it.
    I’m very proud of that.
     
  11. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    When I first came to TDPRI over a dozen years ago, one of the first things I found myself talking about was spending time in Taft, CA.

    I think Merle was the kind of man who would know, you have to check inside a coin-op washer or dryer before you use it - could be too much "oilfield" in there. And I mentioned Valley Fever and remembered being there the day when my friend caught it and never did entirely recover. This is when you realize, it does matter where an entertainer or writer comes from and what his life experiences are. You coulda have gone to do a writer's clinic with Guy Clark for 4 years straight, but if you didn't have an actual identity of your own, I don't think it would amount to anything.

    I wanna thank Merle for driving this home to me.
     
  12. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    He could tell corny jokes and get laughs. He could also give an evil eye to a guy, and shut him up right now. The guy was the real deal. He could play and sing. We were lucky enough not only to have seen him perform several times but to meet him outside the music world in a hospital one time when he was getting ready to go on tour abroad. Nice guy, genuine down home comfortable in his own skin kind of guy. Okies, are just Okies no matter where they are.
     
  13. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    I’m thankful there’s such great collection of live stuff on YouTube, real quality showing lots of different influences.
    I’m also so glad I saw him live (just once)
     
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  14. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm pretty sure Merle never got over being poor, and having conflicts in his life at an early age. He was married five times, and I'm not even going to repeat how he came to be with his last wife. It worked for him, and that's what counts. I know first hand what a problem it can be dealing with the kind of past you get from being dirt poor. My life tried to take on decidedly wrong turns, most of them though, I realized I was heading the wrong way, and got back on course. One night though, I was literally at a Y in the road, and took the wrong choice. Man if I could have one do over that would probably be it. Thing is, I leaned from that wrong decision, and I might not have gotten IT otherwise.
     
  15. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Every time Merle came close to New England I saw him. First time was 1972. The last time was 1996. He was always genuine and dedicated to the songs. Thanks for the thread!
     
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  16. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Been doing a cover of MH's Working Man Blues for a long, long, time.
    I Love that Song!
     
  17. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    In about 1975, my young wife and I were living in Columbia, Missouri. Merle and the Strangers were playing nearby in Jefferson City, in the high school auditorium, which probably seated 600. Barbara Mandrell was the opening act.

    Before the show, my wife and I—being 23-yr old sophisticates—decided to have a drink at the swank Holiday Inn, a towering, circular 12-storey structure with a bar on top. As we rode down the elevator, it stopped and Merle rode down with us. I was pretty much unable to speak, but told him that we were looking forward to his show. He was pleasant.

    The previous day, I had heard on the radio news that Merle had been ticketed by the Missouri Department of Conservation for fishing without a license.

    After Barbara Mandrell’s terrific set, as Merle prepared to kick off, Missouri Governor Christopher Bond walked out on the stage and made a big production out of tearing up a piece of paper that represented Merle’s ticket for fishing without a license. Governor Bond was a rich kid from Missouri, who grew up in a mansion, attended a New England prep school, and Ivy League universities—the audience was aware that he probably had never heard of Merle. Bond was also then rumored at the time to be estranged from his popular wife, whose name happened to be Carolyn.

    As soon as the governor began walking off the stage, mugging at the crowd, the band broke into the song “Carolyn.” Hilarity ensued, as you’ll understand from the lyrics.
     
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  18. stxrus

    stxrus Poster Extraordinaire

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    Merle is definitely in the top 5 artists I would call “the best” overall
    I have no MH stories. I just saw him 10-15 times and I enjoyed all of them.
     
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  19. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I can relate.
    We did not have much growing up, we were rather poor dairy farmers. My father lived through the depression, survived Polio, survived scarlet fever as a child, a couple of serious car accidents, and some serious burns. I saw him work hard pretty much every day of his adult life until he finally retired in his 70's. Although I cannot say he was entirely supportive of my music he did turn me on to country music through TV shows like Hee Haw, Porter Wagoner's show, and the Glen Campbell's good time hour. My first introduction to Buck, Merle, George and many others. It was years later that I understood the genius of Merle and Buck, my two favorites. I love Buck but Merle was really on a different level.
    Thanks for the post!
     
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  20. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Thank you for you kind words. That was the amazing thing about Merle that he could touch each of us with such disparate backgrounds in the same way!
     
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