Hag Protests the Nashville-Washington Axis


With the attention Merle Haggard's been getting for his song "That's the News," hardly anyone's mentioning that it isn't the only topical track on his new album, the excellent Like Never Before. One political entry, "Yellow Ribbons," is a tribute to American soldiers; it shouldn't provoke much controversy. But then there's "Lonesome Day":

When the men in black come kickin' in your door
And guitar-playin' outlaws lay spread-eagle on the floor
When our celebrated heroes have been cuffed and locked away
It's gonna be a lonesome day

We laugh at all the crazy things those guitar players said
They talked about the workin' man and the troubled life he led
When everything is perfect, no rebels in the way
It's gonna be a lonesome day

They'll be singing up in heaven while we're living here in hell
Givin' up our liberty and buyin' what they sell
Who's gonna sing the song of freedom when freedom goes away?
It's gonna be a lonesome day

When the big boys with the microphone just up and back away
And they're afraid to say the things they know they ought to say
When the symbol of our freedom like an eagle flies away
It's gonna be a lonesome day

NEXT: If I spill, my life ain't worth a nickel.

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  1. Hey, anybody who puts down ol’ Merle is walking on the Fightin’ side of me…

  2. Jesse: Thanks for plugging the new Haggard. A few years in prison is probably enough to keep a smart guy like Hag concerned about Liberty for the rest of his life.

    Commenters: Uh, Merle Haggard does sell his records directly off his Web site. But whether you buy it at a store — good luck finding it at Best Buy or wherever — or from Amazon or from his site, Merle actually gets paid. It’s his record company, Hag Records, which he started after only being ripped off and / or dropped from a half-dozen labels over 40 years.

    Please don’t let this cyber-groupthink “Fuck the RIAA!” stuff get to the point where you don’t even check the dude’s site before proclaiming to God and 5,000 Reason readers that you’re going to steal the dude’s songs / recordings if you can only manage a convenient way to do it. Haggard is one of hundreds (maybe thousands) of musicians who were once signed to major labels but now release their own music. In simple terms, this means they pay for the recording time and manufacturing and all other related costs, and when you buy their music the money actually goes to the musician who funded the project and created the art. (Aimee Mann, Hanson, Jay Farrar, Chuck D, Steve Poltz, the Mother Hips, Dwight Yoakam and Maria McKee are a few of the ex-major people now putting out their own records.)

    So, to summarize: If stealing music from The Man makes you feel all punk rock or whatever as you sit in your cubicle, good for you. But please take five seconds to see if it’s actually The Man you’re screwing, because there’s a good chance you’re actually screwing the person who made the music — a person struggling to pay for health insurance & the regular household bills, not to mention the debt he or she likely piled up to manufacture the records.

    And no, Merle Haggard isn’t exactly partying with Bill Gates. Getting reamed by endless shady record & publishing contracts tends to keep you close to the working man — add five or six divorce settlements, and you end up selling your houseboat online, “REDUCED.”

  3. Or you could buy the CD at a Haggard concert, like the Walker household did last night. The man has been touring up a storm, and while his shows aren’t as long as they used to be — he didn’t play longer than an hour yesterday — they’re fun, spontaneous affairs. The man will actually play audience requests (rare for stars of his stature), and his band loves to take a jazz or blues number and just jam.

  4. working men. giving up liberty equated with buying what they sell.


  5. Aww… NUTS! Now I have to give the RIAA their due and buy the album, just to hear that song! (KaZaa and dialup do NOT make for a good combination.)

    Maybe ol Merle was thinking about them in that verse about “Givin’ up our liberty and buyin’ what they sell”…

  6. Im sure you have a friend or connection with some broadband…

    Continue the boycott of RIAA, maybe write Merle and ask him to sell direct from his website…

    Thats what I have begun to do, write my artists of choice, explain why I will not buy thier RIAA endorsed album and ask for them to sell direct on thier website… all it takes is a few to start the revolution.

  7. Another reason to appreciate the Man in Black. If the lore is true, he inspired Hag, who is an American treasure in his own right.

  8. What a load of paranoid, self-pitying crap.

  9. Hag’s made a lot of good records but god help me if Rick Rubin or Daniel Lanois ever get ahold him like they did with Johnny Cash, I’ll probably have to kill myself.

  10. Rick Rubin is God! Or at least His producer.

  11. Daniel Lenois produced Willie Nelson, not Johnny Cash.

  12. Yeah, Rick Rubin “got ahold” of Johnny Cash, that’s what happened. Johnny spent the last 10 years of his life locked in a basement with electrodes wired to his brain forcing him to sing the songs Rubin wanted him to.

    Seriously, if you don’t like Cash’s last 4 albums, there’s something seriously wrong with you and it’s no wonder you’re contemplating suicide.

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