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Digital Subscriptions > Country Music > Apr/May 2019 > MY NAME IS MERLE

MY NAME IS MERLE

Merle Haggard was a man of contradictions. A smooth-tongued crooner who sang songs of fighting and an icon of redneck Republicanism who voted for Obama. We pay tribute to the man they nicknamed “the poet of the common man”…

In a genre some way removed from country and western, indie band Arctic Monkeys cribbed a line from the film Saturday Night And Sunday Morning for the title of their 2006 album: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. It might have been even better applied to one Merle Ronald Haggard.

Across a career spanning over half a century, The Hag proved it time and time again. And damn, he needed to. Because rarely has an artist found that one or two of his many hundreds of songs have painted him into a philosophical and political corner like his have.

But even if Okie From Muskogee and The Fightin’ Side Of Me saw him characterised as a redneck, conservative rabble-rouser from early on, his true fans know better. They are the work of an artist who was a much more thoughtful, complex and unpredictable individual than many gave him credit for.

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