Ragged Old Flag

Something for the weekend.  Ragged Old Flag (1974) sung by the incomparable Johnny Cash, a good song for two days before Flag Day.  Bonus :

Here Comes the Freedom Train (1976) sung by the great Merle Haggard.

Published in: on June 12, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Ragged Old Flag  
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Merle Haggard: Requiescat in Pace


Something for the weekend.  The Fightin’ Side of Me.

When I was growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies, the radio station in Paris, Illinois, WPRS, “1400 on the AM dial”, my generation often referred to it as World’s Poorest Radio Station, had a country and western format.  As a result, I often woke up to the strains, from the radio in the kitchen where my parents were having breakfast, of Merle Haggard. As a result I often woke up to the strains, from the radio in the kitchen where my parents were having breakfast, of Merle Haggard.

A son of the great Okie diaspora to California during the Great Depression, Haggard was born in Bakersfield, California in 1937.  Life for his family was a struggle after his father died in 1945.  Growing up he was constantly in trouble, and by his 21rst birthday he was a convicted felon for having attempted to rob a roadhouse, and was serving time in San Quentin.  A concert by Johnny Cash inspired him to join the prison band.  He was released on parole in 1960.  (Governor Reagan granted him a full pardon in 1972.)  He began performing as a guitarist and fiddle player, quickly becoming a fixture of what became known as the Bakersfield Sound, performers in and around Bakersfield, California producing a fusion of country music and rock.  Haggard first came to prominence performing songs written by Liz Anderson, mother of country and western singer Lynn Anderson.

In 1969 Haggard suddenly found himself the voice of what President Nixon called the Silent Majority.  A fairly apolitical man, Haggard was disturbed by the counterculture, and his Okie From Muskogee, an idealized look at an Oklahoma life that he had never experienced, became a giant hit.

His song The Fightin’ Side of Me (1970) caused conservatives to regard him as on their side.  This was incorrect.  Haggard did not follow politics closely, and his own views could be described very,very roughly as libertarian/populist, although that probably gives him too much credit for consistency.

He always had great respect for our military as demonstrated in his song, I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me (1972):

In 1989 after the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning was constitutionally protected, he angrily wrote the song Only Me and Crippled Soldiers Give a Damn:



Published in: on April 9, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Merle Haggard: Requiescat in Pace  
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Here Comes the Freedom Train


Something for the weekend.  Here Comes the Freedom Train (1976).  This seems like an appropriate song between the birthdays of our two greatest presidents:  Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Written by Stephen Lemberg in 1976, the above rendition by Merle Haggard was played endlessly on the radio in the Bicentennial year, the 45 single of the song sold as a fundraiser for the second Freedom Train. (more…)

Published in: on February 13, 2016 at 4:30 am  Comments Off on Here Comes the Freedom Train  
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