Friday, April 15, 2016

So Long, Hag

Merle Haggard, 1937-2016
Usually I'm pretty good with being able to come up with the words I need to explain what I mean. Merle Haggard's voice, however, has always been one thing for which I can't find the words to explain why I find it so appealing. Oh, I've tried. I even tried to get my musician husband to help me. "Is it the timbre of his voice?" I asked, hoping the DH would explain to me exactly what "timbre" is in music, and that somewhere in his explanation would be the idea that would make me say, "YES! That's what it is!" (Didn't work...DH just said, "Probably," or something like that.)

After hearing yesterday (April 6, actually) that Merle Haggard had died, and having the opportunity this evening (April 7, actually) to drive somewhere by myself, I decided to do some intense listening to try once again to explain to myself what it is about this particular voice that I like so much.

What I found is that it's hard to separate the voice from the words. Actually, that may be one of the things that appeals to me - that there was such a good match between Merle Haggard's voice and the lyrics. It was not a one-dimensional match-up, either. He could be raucous and edgy on a song like I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink,  but tender and smooth on one like I'm Always on a Mountain When I Fall. His voice was just so..."evocative" is the word that keeps coming to mind. I'm quite a sucker for sad songs sang well, and something like Hungry Eyes always moves me (at least when Merle Haggard sings it....).

Oh, man...the way he holds out "wanted" and "needed"....and the poignancy of "It wasn't 'cause my daddy didn't try."

(a week later....)

I lost my train of thought - my family got home while I was writing that post, and all the liveliness they brought with them made it even harder to think of what I was trying to say. But I do want to pay a tribute to a voice that always seemed so honest and genuine in the world of commercial music that too often is contrived and manipulated.

So long, Hag.