Sunday, May 07, 2006

It Went South, Along With Our Whole Country

So sayeth Merle Haggard, in an interview with something called Connect Savannah (via Expecting Rain):

Connect Savannah: If there’s someone reading this who’s never considered themselves a country fan, what’s the one album Merle Haggard would encourage them to pick up that would serve as a great example of the very best country that’s ever been recorded?

Merle Haggard: Well, I don’t know. I don’t even consider myself country anymore. I identify more with what’s happening in rock and roll right now, and it’s the rock people who seem to identify with me the most, and treat me with some sort of respect. The country people are out to use my name for different things if they can, and the rock and roll people seem to just like me for who I am. To hell with country! That’s the way I’m feelin’ about it.

Connect Savannah: Why do you think that is? I remember when Johnny Cash was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Roseanne Cash said it meant much more to him to be accepted as a peer by those folks than it ever did for him to receive praise from the country music business.

Merle Haggard: Well, the rock people are coming from the heart and soul, and country people are always tryin’ to use you.

Connect Savannah: That’s so strange: Rock and roll always gets tagged as the shallow, callous genre, while country made a name for itself as being a more traditional and spiritual form of music that’s linked to the heartland and the whole compassionate conservative movement.

Merle Haggard: I think it went south along with our whole country. See, the whole situation of life has changed. What they’re calling country is about as country as downtown New York! It’s got nothin’ to do with actual country music. Country’s supposed to be about people who find their way from the soil to the microphone — instead of bein’ shaped into some kind of phony perfection with computers like they do nowadays. I mean, who can sing and who can’t? You really can’t tell anymore.

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