Golden country star Merle Haggard recently passed away on April 6. The death of the country star has really shocked fans. But one of his most controversial hits is still being doubt by the media.
Career and personal life
Haggard’s troubled personal life inspired most of his personal songs and greatest hits, having been marked by the death of his father in 1945. The death of James Haggard led the country star into a life of rule-breaking since his early years, but his love for music was always present.
Haggard received his first guitar from his brother Lowell, when he was only 12 years old. Influenced by Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams, Haggard taught himself to play. But the absence of his father led him to a rebellious path.
After several times in juvenile detention centers, Haggard ended up in jail in 1957 after an attempt of robbery because of the financial issues he and his wife were facing. Haggard later in prison found that his wife was expecting the child of another man, another psychological wound for the soon to be country star.
His troubled personal life definitely inspired most of his hits, that started in the year of 1964 when he released Wynn Stewart’s song (All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers. A record that granted him a national hit.
Haggard’s songs reflected the experiences and troubled life he had lived with titles such as I’m A Lonesome Fugitive where the artist expressed his repressed feelings while performing and recording.
One of his top hits Okie from Muskogee led the artist into the controversy road as the song reads a series of opinions on the -for that moment- hippie movement.
Haggard who hadn’t previously commented on politics wrote and released a song assuring middle American’s were patriotic people who “didn’t smoke marijuana, take LSD trips or challenge authority.”
The song made a real strong patriotic point of view, a Rolling Stones article suggests the song “Helped to envision and enable to combative, disaffected constituency that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign has exploited.” Even though the website assures it would be churlish to think this in an entirely objective point of view, is not completely untrue.
But the fact is that Haggard’s ‘Okie’’ song made a real controversy on the media back at the time and also put the artist into the political eye. After that song, Haggard was always considered as a patriotic conservative.
The song that marked Haggard’s career
The country star made several statements about what he meant with the song, in some he explained the song was a humorous satire but, in others, he assured it was a political statement.
“I wrote it when I recently got out of the joint, I knew what it was like to lose my freedom, and I was getting really mad at these protesters, they didn’t know anything more about the war in Vietnam. I thought how my dad, who was from Oklahoma would have felt,” he said in an interview during the Bob Edwards Show.
The star proceeded to make several other statements linked to what his father would have thought about the youth of the moment and the “hippie” protests occurring.
“My dad passed away when I was nine, and I wondered what so-and-so would he think about this? I was driving on the Interstate 40 and I saw a sign that said 19 miles to Muskogee which was referred as my way back home,” Haggard stated in the documentary series Lost Highway.
Merle Haggard was definitely a country superstar, that like any musician, generated controversy thanks to a song. The country community is celebrating his life and career achievements, assuring he is part of country’s DNA.
Source: Rolling Stone