Cincinnati Babyhead

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Tulare Dust : A Songwriters’ Tribute To Merle Haggard

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I thought I’d expose all you Heavy Metal, Blues, Jazz, Pop, Prog Heads whatever you listen to, to a little Haggard as in Merle Haggard. CB loves Merle’s music and having this line up of artists paying tribute on this record made me feel like I was in good company.

Merle writes, sings and plays some of the best American music CB has ever heard.  He was one of the keepers of traditional country and western swing (He turned CB onto Bob Wills).  All these artists have big shoes to fill singing Merle’s songs.  Did they make CB forget Merle’s versions? No.  But they do a damn good job of paying tribute to someone they respect and they do great versions.

When this album came out i was listening to a lot of Dave Alvin (The Blasters) and Tom Russell.  So when I heard that they were or had teamed up to produce this album I was on board to grab it.  Alvin, Russell and Peter Case came to my home town at the time and it just further peaked my interest.  Plus I read a write up by a music guy I respected (similar to all you people I find on these pages) who wrote a great piece on the record. When I think of Merle some things that come to mind are Steinbeck, Guthrie, working people, fiddles, jails, hard times.  I came to Merle in the 70’s and went on a binge.  My first taste of his songs were from Gram Parsons.  I grabbed an album called ‘Big City’ and I’ve been on the Haggard train since.

Russell opens up the record with ‘Tulare Dust/They’re Tearing the Labor Camps Down’. The song is all Merle and a piece of American history.  Steinbeck and Guthrie are all over this one.  Dave Alvin closes the record with ‘Kern River’  one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.  It moves me down to the bone.  Alvin more than does it justice.  Another piece of American and Merle’s history.  He writes a lot about change and the first and last songs on the album stay true to that style. We all have Memories, these are Hags.

 

In between these two songs we get various renditions of Haggard’s material. Not all of these are CB favorites but the artists have some kind of connection to them. There’s a good cross section of styles so you get a taste of  “various artists”.  Some of the ones that stand out to CB are Iris Dement, Joe Ely, Marshall Crenshaw (great version of Silver Wings), Peter Case, John Doe (from the band X but feeling his country roots).  This was my first exposure to people like Lucinda Williams, Barrence Whitfield and others.  None of them try to reinvent the songs they just sing Merle’s words their way. Worked for me.

 

Song writers like Joe Ely, Dave Alvin, Tom Russell are all up there with my favorite North American songwriters,  Springsteen , Fogerty, Robertson, Van Zandt, Prine, Jerry Jeff, Guy Clark, Greg Brown

Like I said off the top these artists give a nod to one of CB’s favorite musicians. I pull this record out regularly along with all the Merle Haggard music I have.  I dig Merle!

( Thom  did a great take on Merle’s Kern River, check it out.  https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2016/02/22/merle-haggard-dave-alvin-emmylou-harris-kern-river/ )

This is CB’s other contribution to Vinyl Connections “Various Artists” concoction.  It was a certified cacophony of coolness by a cast of cool cats. CB is ready to collect his collection together for the next Bruce collaboration (CBs stab at doing Ellroy).

VARIOUS

 

 

 

 

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15 comments on “Tulare Dust : A Songwriters’ Tribute To Merle Haggard

  1. Vinyl Connection
    December 10, 2017

    Could he be a certified cacophony of coolness? Certainly!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, Another Blogger
    December 10, 2017

    This tribute album sound fantastic. Thanks for writing about it, CB.

    Merle is a guy who’s music I don’t know anywhere as well as I should. I need to get with it.

    See ya

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 10, 2017

      Yeah there is so much more to him than that “Muskogie” thing. He never got trapped by it. His long time band was one of the best in the business. His effortless singing style is in my top 2 or 3 of all time (Billy Holiday, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee). OK I’ll stop.

      (Neil I know you’re film guy. Check out an episode of American Experience. Great little doc. They give a real good insight into Merle. He’s the real deal.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. J.
    December 11, 2017

    I don’t know this tribute album. I didn’t even know of it, so thanks for covering it.

    I’m of the opinion that Merle was one of the best… I think everyone should at least have a Merle compilation in their collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 11, 2017

      It’s funny. When I first popped over to your page last week and seen your post on getting the Everley Brothers and Merle’s records I had already finished this take so I knew we had a common thread. Your “opinion” of Merle is shared by me. I was totally blindsided on how good he is. His music just gets me plus he was a no bullshit guy. I told Neil on a comment above about the American Experience show on him. I think you would really dig it.

      Like

      • J.
        December 11, 2017

        The no bullshit has always been the draw for me (and the great songs, right enough – lets not forget them!). I’ll have a look for the American Experience show via YouTube.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        December 11, 2017

        ‘American Masters’ my mistake.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        December 12, 2017

        Duly noted!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. loshame
    December 11, 2017

    I like your post 😊.

    Like

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 21, 2017

      I actually have that album on tape. I forgot all about it. That is a great version. I’m listening to the whole album right now. Thanks for that!

      Liked by 1 person

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