Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons is the bastard child of country music, accepted by some, scorned and dismissed by others. Credited with creating a thing that already existed, Cosmic American Music (a melting pot of genres), Gram’s true contribution to country music was as an ambassador. Country musicians have always borrowed elements from other genres to add to the sound of country music. The notable thing Gram did was to take country music and inject it into the rock music scene of the mid- to late-60s. His work with The Byrds took them from “psych-pop/rock with a secret crush on hillbilly music” to recording straight-up murder ballads with mandolins in Nashville.

There will have to be at least one episode in the future dedicated to Gram Parsons and his work with The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Emmylou Harris and The Rolling Stones. For now, find him mentioned in these episodes of Cocaine & Rhinestones.

Merle Haggard

CR005 Breaking Down Merle Haggard’s Okie from Muskogee

1200 630 Cocaine & Rhinestones

The song was just what so many Americans needed at the time, in 1969. Conservatives needed someone to stand up and defend small town, traditional values. Politicians needed someone to justify America’s continuing involvement in the Vietnam War. Oklahomans needed someone to redeem the meaning of the word “okie,” a hateful slur that arose from The Great Depression.

The only thing is, Merle Haggard wasn’t doing any of those things when he wrote the song.

Then what the exact hell was he doing, you ask?

Maybe things will become a little bit more clear once you know what Merle Haggard knew about Herbert Hoover, The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, okies and satire. Maybe.

This episode is also recommended if you like: Gram Parsons, Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Revisionist History podcast.

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