Music Mondays: Merle Haggard

Did I ever tell you about Merle Haggard? Yes, I did; I surely did. Still, no harm in talking about him again. Merle is speaking up for Obama. – Norman Geras

Three great proletarian anthems for you this week.

Mama’s Hungry Eyes

A canvas covered cabin in a crowded labour camp

Stand out in this memory I revived;

Cause my daddy raised a family there, with two hard working hands

And tried to feed my mama’s hungry eyes.

Working Man’s Blues

Okie from Muskogee

Wikipedia: During the late 1960s, Haggard released a series of recordings many critics have deemed to be not only some of his greatest works, but some of the most significant in the history of country music. “Hungry Eyes” — sometimes known as “Mama’s Hungry Eyes” — is one of those recordings.According to genre historian Bill Malone, Haggard wrote the song as a tribute to his mother and the sacrifices she made for her family as a single mother (Haggard’s father having died when he was 9).[1] The song itself is not autobiographical, Malone noted, as the Haggard family never lived in a labor camp.

However, “Hungry Eyes” is a tribute to Oklahomans and others who lived in labor camps during the Great Depression, the time period in which this song is set. “(I)t is Haggard’s way of commemorating a whole generation of Okies who persisted through persecution and suffering to transplant their culture to California,” Malone wrote.[2]

“Hungry Eyes,” whose somber tone underscored the hope-filled despair of its main subject, Mama, was a track on Haggard’s 1969 album A Portrait of Merle Haggard. Music critic Mark Deming noted that the song was among three of Haggard’s finest songs to appear on the album; “Silver Wings” and “Workin’ Man’s Blues” were the other two. “(M)ost country artists would be happy to cut three tunes this strong during the course of their career, let alone as part of one of six albums Hag would release in 1969,” wrote Deming.[3]

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Published in: on February 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] this, as I messed up the […]

  2. […] Merle Haggard; Working Man’s Blues; Jesus Christ; Woody Guthrie at 100; Vigilante Man; Hobo’s Lullaby. […]

  3. […] Merle Haggard; Working Man’s Blues; Jesus Christ; Woody Guthrie at 100; Vigilante Man; Hobo’s Lullaby. […]


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