Merle Haggard has always been categorised as one of the great American Country Singers but, when it comes to songwriting, his talents are often overlooked. So, when a bunch of top Americana singers and songwriters came together, to produce a tribute to Haggard as a writer, it was time to take a proper, in-depth listen to some of the songs that came from his pen. Continue reading “Classic Americana Compilations: “Tulare Dust – A Songwriter’s Tribute to Merle Haggard” (Hightown Records, 1994)”
This week’s retro video is a true classic written by the legendary Townes Van Zandt. If you watch closely, you might spot Van Zandt making an appearance or two in the video! As you would expect, the characterful vocals from Nelson and Haggard are excellent. Legend has it that the character of Lefty was based on Daniel Antopolsky, who toured with Van Zandt back in the day…read my interview with him here.
First things first. If you haven’t discovered the excellent 33 1/3 series of books from Bloomsbury Publishing you’re seriously missing out. This is a series of short books about popular music and it focuses on individual albums by a very wide range of artists. Obviously not all of these will be of interest to Americana fans but there is enough to make this a series well worth investigating. Continue reading “Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)”
Let’s face it, he’s probably still not going to beat Mel B’s version of “Word Up” in terms of classic covers but good on him for having a go. Rolling Stone reports: “Imagine arranging Merle Haggard’s millions of fans in concentric circles. In the outermost ring, place the casual listeners, the ones familiar with “Mama Tried,” some of the canonical 1960s material and maybe the hoopla around “Okie From Muskogee.” A slightly smaller – if still spacious – circle encompasses those who stuck with Haggard as long as country radio did; he scored his last Number One airplay hit as a solo artist in 1987. Next you enter into a circle of dedicated enthusiasts, the active listeners who have continued to hunt down and pore over Haggard’s LPs, and that’s where you’ll find Will Oldham, who records under the name Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Continue reading “Bonnie ‘Prince’ talks Merle Haggard”