One of my favorite popular musical tales concerns the writing of "Okie From Muskogee," a song that enmeshed its author, Merle Haggard, within a cultural and political misunderstanding that seems to have lifted only in the last decade or so. As the story goes, Hag and his band were traveling by bus through Oklahoma. As they passed by a sign for Muskogee, Haggard -- a Californian of Okie descent -- launched into a little joke on his roots for the boys on the bus, singing, "We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee." (Were they toking themselves? Perhaps.) Being the late '60s, a time of great cultural divisions, this small expression of that state of mind got a good laugh from Haggard's compatriots. So the star and his band member Eddie Burris ran with the joke, all... More >>>
John Wayne could never pretend to be as tough as Merle Haggard is.