Friday, December 21, 2007

Merle Haggard

The Bluegrass Sessions

Plenty today pay lip service to Johnny & Hank and ask, “Why can’t nobody do it like they used to?” Yet the same people can’t be bothered to keep up with the likes of Merle Haggard, unless he’s being promoted by a punk rock label.
Perhaps Hag himself is partly to blame: He releases a new one annually, like Neil Young or Woody Allen, though he’s more consistent. He might not reach as high, but you can be sure that he’ll never collaborate with Madonna or go crazy with robots.

Here, he revisits old songs, sings some new ones, and finds himself unable to stay within the strict parameters of bluegrass regulations, in the best way.
Willie Nelson might have proven to be more versatile (ever hear his reggae disc?), but Haggard keeps returning as the most emotionally and instinctually awake songwriter left amongst what used to be called country music.

c. 2007 LEO Weekly

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