Ray Wylie Hubbard

Ray wrote a song called “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” that Jerry Jeff Walker had an anti-hit with. (An anti-hit is a song that everyone knows even though Billboard magazine never got the memo.)

Then Ray got screwed over by a record company, put out some stuff on indie labels, quit music for five years or so and returned in the ’90s to slowly morph into whatever you would call what he’s doing now. Some kind of cross between mid-60s Dylan stream-of-consciousness and swamp blues. Like if Laozi’s religion was an open E chord.

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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