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An American Reverie: Merle Haggard


By SchmalzPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
An American Reverie: Merle Haggard
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Merle Haggard or as I still prefer to address him, “The Hag” is an artist that now unfortunately gone has imbued my life with a deeper connection to and reconciliation with life. Merle's many songs of longing, running, loving, and drinking ballads calls out as if every song struck into the core of America. Perhaps it’s because of his ability to not only penetrate the heart of being in his music and grasp the wide variety of thoughts, emotions, and actions everyone is likely to encounter throughout life. He paints a window and then with a guiding hand reaches out and pulls you into the expression of his music. In my opinion if you compiled all of The Hag’s music you would get a full picture of the depth and breadth of human existence. Perhaps the song of choice being, (I'm Gonna Paint Me) A Bed of Roses illuminates just how far out he can stretch beyond a country musician and into the depths of human being.

Whether it be an original Hag outcast song, a heartbroken man on the edge of darkness, or a triumphant tune relishing in the victory over life; The Hag is sure to take you along with him on a philosophical and visceral adventure exploring the depth of humanities morality, endless fiascoes, misadventures, and I may add with a grain of salt; transcend those stories. The endless pit of loneliness in Misery and gin or Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down that pulls you into the circumstance as if it were your own. Or the recklessness of youth in Mama Tried or Huntsville boasting of the "slipperiness" of his character. In The Hag I find a man who has lived a life full and worthy of many of the ballads he sings about.

A personal favorite tune of mine by him is, I'm a Good Loser which he quickly points out he's born to be that way. The initial punch being a good loser seems to dampen any hard working American spirit but the tune is played in a rather triumphant and upbeat melody. The easily identifiable longing for someone to finally have some sort of victory in life who yet has seemed to accept the same cycle of failure over and over again. To me this song totally encompasses the feeling that we may never triumph over existence and death but rather champion in our endurance over the course of life's many tragedies. To continue in pursuit of something better with a combination of fatalism and hope in willing to overcome. I can't think of a better cathartic Western tune about how much we keep our failures inside ourselves. "You can't see the hurt inside" a line so simple yet incredible in reach. In this tune alone it seems as if The Hag has been by your side through it all and recognizing the many heartaches of failure and heartbreak allowing for the listener to find solace and that to be a good loser is the same as caring about how you play the game. Whether or not you've lost you will continue on until victory finally comes your way.

No matter who you are or what walk of life, Haggard is sure to have a few songs that you could thoroughly feel even if you’re someone who can’t bear the sound of country music, the lyrics alone should provide one with a deeply moving experience. His ability to use songs to encapsulate the heart's longings, wishes people have, and the many disappointments that we encounter as a result of the aforementioned “wishes” is vast and fascinating. However, beyond Merle’s deep insights into human nature he also has a great deal of music dealing with our ability to triumph over circumstance despite our limitations and still manage to bring a light into the world. It is for these reasons I consider The Hag to be one of the greatest American artists and a personal favorite of mine.

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About the Creator


Welcome to my page! I am a writer whose interests are vast and believes in the art of the word. In my writing you will find Non-Fiction, Fiction, and poetry in pursuit of the value of language.

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    SchmalzWritten by Schmalz

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