4

How Merle Haggard Turned Me On To Bedhead

^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

I was fortunate enough to speak with legend Merle Haggard for this week's print edition of the Observer. Aside from being in awe each time he mentioned Willie Nelson, Lake Shasta (his home for many years, which he refers to in multiple songs) or Johnny Cash, I was particularly struck by our quick discussion regarding the way major labels of Nashville have never seemed very fond of letting treasured, aging artists grow old with dignity, even though that artist helped make tons of money for that label in the past. (See: the way in which Columbia Records dropped Johnny Cash after almost 30 years.)

In conversation, I was fairly certain The Hag, who has recently recorded for indie label Anti-, would be quick to rail against the current snake-oil salesmen of Music Row. I didn't get the venom I had expected. What I got was a simple and terribly logical reply regarding how the Internet will help generations to come find the most vital music American history has to offer, regardless of what's being played on Top 40 radio at the time.

As I got over my disappointment at not being proffered a fiery Haggard-style filibuster on all that is wrong within the current workings of modern pop-country, I started thinking about the bands I've recently discovered or learned a great deal more about, thanks to our friend the Interweb. We look to taste-making blogs for the latest clips and videos from current acts, but that's not what Haggard was talking about. What have I been able to really dig into now, that I couldn't in years past?

As it happens, the treasured Dallas band Bedhead is the most recent example, thanks to a great deal of virtual gold-digging. Spotify, eMusic, Wikipedia and the online archives of the Observer (hat-tip to D-Hop) have brought me closer to our very own slow-core pioneers.

On a personal note, I was too sheltered as a young teen at Keller High School to really get to know a ton of local bands in the pre-Internet era, including the mid-'90s, when the Kadane brothers really got rolling. By the time their insanely brilliant What Fun Life Was came out in 1994, I had just graduated high school, but again, the Internet wasn't the vehicle it is now, and without any friends that were into the band, a relationship with a living, breathing Bedhead just wasn't meant to be for me. As the '90s progressed, I had friends turn me on to Doosu, Toadies, Funland and Caulk, but I didn't know what I was missing by not knowing Bedhead.

Thanks to growing older and wiser, and the publicity that's surrounded the Kadanes' more recent project, The New Year, it hasn't been difficult to realize Bedhead's catalog isn't only a must-have for fans of Dallas music history, but the songs themselves stand the test of time and escape the dated feel of so many '90s indie bands. Songs such as "Bedside Table" still resonate in a moody, atmospheric and primal manner, thanks to the minimal touch applied by the band. The crawling, continual build-up that fills their songs is a thing of pure beauty.

Given that Bedhead's peak was before YouTube, there are precious few clips of them performing live. At least there's one fascinating clip to be had of the band performing "Bedside Table" at what commenters think is Club Clearview, but might've been at the now-defunct (but no less awesome) Deep Ellum Live.

So, there you have it. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was blind to Bedhead, but now I see, thanks to my wireless connection and the Okie from Muskogee.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.