Listen: Okie From Muskogee / Merle Haggard
Okie From Muskogee / Merle Haggard
I think it was on the Johnny Carson Show where I first encountered ‘Okie From Muskogee’ and in fact, had initially even heard of Merle Haggard. He and his song became the enemy in three short minutes. It was, at the time, a clear antagonistic attack on youth culture. And I was a member.
Many years later it became obvious that the world of country music was as twisted by drugs and sex as any other. Made Merle Haggard become something like an unregistered hypocrite. And once everyone discovered he’d been in jail and all that, he crumbled into a joke.
As it turns out, he claimed the song to be tongue in cheek, and nowadays, I guess everyone believes him. He’s certainly made a lot of good records since. Who knows – the single is quite funny in the 21st century, even hard to hate.
Listen: Hippie From Olema / The Youngbloods
Hippie From Olema / The Youngbloods
There was some relief in the day though. The Youngbloods shot back with a fantastically hysterical response in the form of ‘Hippie From Olema’, a very under heard, under appreciated non-LP track. I don’t believe it’s ever been compiled.
It was the local Syracuse University station, WAER, that started to spin it heavily. The single was perfect for campus radio. And we all glued ourselves to their frequency, given in the late 60′s, they were the only progressive format in town.
I, for one, loved the station. Half the student disc jockeys were Anglophiles jamming out Blodwyn Pig, Juicy Lucy, Chicken Shack, Taste, King Crimson etc over the airwaves. WAER was a Godsend.
The Youngbloods came to the school’s gymnasium about then as well. Despite their unwashed, American folk rock angle, I always loved their records. Never did they release a bad single either, whether it be the early, more pop intended ones (which Jesse Colin Young often accused RCA of forcing them to do) to later, underground album tracks.
So off to the show we went. Let me tell you, they were a serious live band, incredibly musical and entertaining. Collected every last release ever since.
The closing lyric: “We still take in strangers if they’re haggard” gets a SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME lifetime lyrical achievement award for being right up there with both The Ramones’ “I don’t care about poverty, all I care about is me” and Lux Interior’s “From your bottom to your top, you’re sure some lollipop”. Congratulations guys.