Friday, May 04, 2007
Today we're proud to present you with the Merle Haggard portion of The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs.
In my very humble estimation, Haggard, the working man's poet, may be one of the most important artists of the last 50 years. Hag could veer with ease from a hard "fuck you" persona to a troubadour of heartbreak, often in the same song. Beloved by punks and honkytonk purists alike, his massive body of recorded work reads like a travelogue through the American landscape, the fears and hopes, loves and losses, trials and tribulations of the common man. A proud and often contradictory performer, Haggard mapped the template of great Country music, great American music, and is owed a large debt by any and all "alt" Country performers slogging the misery and gin circuit today. And that voice. Haggard's voice, a perfectly twanged baritone, has cracked over the years, but, like Tom Waits, in the ageing has found a deeper resonance. I've often committed the heresy in public of placing Haggard in the same importance as Johnny Cash (let the flogging and howling begin).
Of all the artists in the Top 100 Drinking Songs, Haggard received the most individual votes. Only one artist placed as many songs on the list as Haggard. It's a testament to Merle's skills as songwriter, the laureate of barstool philosophy. Haggard knows where a man needs to be, what helps him through the lonely nights, or eases the aches of a long working day, where all his friends are strangers and they're the best friends he's got.
We're not done with Haggard, of course. There's a good chance he'll pop up next week as we finish the final 50. So come on back, we'll have a shot and a bracer waiting for you, and some keen surprises. And don't forget to visit Barstool Mountain for a continuing look at all songs drinking. It's a testament to the world's second greatest pastime.
The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs, Part 5
60. "Misery And Gin" - Merle Haggard
59. "I Think I'll Just Stay Here And Drink" - Merle Haggard
58. "Bad Bad Whiskey" - Amos Wilburn
57. "Mountain Dew" - Traditional
56. "Whiskey River" - Willie Nelson
55. "Two Six Packs Away" - Dave Dudley
54. "Wine Wine Wine" - Floyd Dixon (mp3)
53. "On Tap, In The Can, Or In The Bottle" - Hank Thompson
52. "Let's Go Get Stoned" - Ray Charles
51. "Swinging Doors" - Merle Haggard