Nah, not really. It's my birthday today (not the site, but the actual person sitting in front of the monitor). Isn't that exciting? Yeah, I'm not real enthused either. But I do like cake. Cake is good.
To celebrate my rapidly increasing decline into fuddydom, a little state of the union, if you will, courtesy of one Mr. Merle Haggard. Hag to his friends, but I'll just call him Sir.
Haggard, of course, is a legend. Perhaps one of the most important artists Country & Western's produced, depending on how one judges such things. Most of his biographical info is well documented, and if you're a regular here, you're probably well versed in at least a portion of his sizable catalogue. He's one of the Mountain's top ten favorite of all time number one bestest most beloved artists. Like Neil Young, Tom Waits, and, to some extent, Bob Dylan, he's grown more interesting as he's gotten older, refusing to take an easy path to the grave that is artistic tedium (Mick'n'Keef, I'm talkin' to you). (and, in a rare stumble, there are some pretty embarrassing Urban Cowboy photos of Merle from his late 70's/early 80's "experimentation").
Anyway, there's a great box set of Merle's work called Down Every Road. It's a pretty good starting point. All the hits (of which there are many) are in it, and a whole lot more (yes, "Okie From Muskogee" is there too. sigh). But I've been starting to work on collecting the Capitol reissue series of his actual albums from the mid to late 60's. Like most "albums" coming out of Nashville, these are more collections of recently released singles, along with a few new studio tracks. In many cases, as one would expect, this creates a hodgepodge effect that justifiably sends fans running toward "greatest hits" collection instead. But with Haggard, these albums hold together remarkably well as albums. Thematic strength highlighting the the quality of the man's songwriting. And the man could write dammit.
The album I've been listening to the most these days is one of his 1967 records, I'm a Lonesome Fugitive (credited to Merle Haggard and the Strangers). It's got a great cover too, Hobo-style Merle hanging on between two boxcars.
In a rare moment of biography, my 33rd year as chronicled by Merle Haggard, with a special thank you to She Who is Most Beloved, the lovely Miss Mountain herself, without whom...
Merle Haggard: Skid Row (mp3)
Merle Haggard: Someone Told My Story (mp3)
Merle Haggard: Drink up and Be Somebody (mp3)
Once your pension fund is paid up, if you've got a couple bucks in yr pocket, please consider purchasing yr Merle from a local independent retailer. Independent spirit, or sumthin'.