It may have all started out in prison for Merle, but he has been punching them out for most of his 76 years. I would like to think that I got on the band wagon with Merle early on but the truth is that I did not really come to appreciate him or his music until the middle of the 1970's. This CD set was released in 1991.
It is not that I did not like country music because I used to listen to the Grand Ole Opry from WSM on my shortwave radio. I am not one of those who think that you have to live a hard life to make good country music, but I do know that you may have had to punch in a few walls to really appreciate it.
This is a two CD set includes most of his biggest hits. Some have been re-recorded and a few are with other artist. Forty Three is a lot to cover in one short review so I'll just pick out a few that hold some meaning for me. After all that is what narcissist do, isn't it?
CD one track one starts off with "Mama Tried". This song has become a joke in my family. When my son was a teenager and pulled some of the mild stunts that all teenager boys do, I was not concerned about him, I just had an overriding fear that he may repeat some of my antics of the 50's and 60's. I need not have worried. I made it a point to take him to the local Waffle House about once a month so we could have some father and son times. One of the ways I tried to make my point was to gently prod him into thinking before he acted. Trust me that should be a lifetime goal for most men. I would put this CD in the car player and queue it up to song One. It took a few times but he eventually got the point. Today he is over thirty and his ring tone on my Iphone is .......Mama Tried. He's been a good boy and turned out to be a good man. Like I said, I need not have worried.
Track nine "Working Man Blues" reminds me of my dad who pulled the load most of his life. I don't know why because my dad was not a drinker, nor a bar cowboy, but he did know what it took to stay off welfare. When he started drawing social security, he always referred to it as his welfare check.
Track seventeen "If we make it through December" holds particularly strong memories. During my working career, I had a couple year stint as a distribution manager at our National Distribution Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The company hired a consultant who determined that we could save a bunch of money if we moved the center from Atlanta to a more central location in Lawrenceburg, Ky. Because of a bunch of reasons not the least of which was the fiscal year, they decided to close the center in December. I had to lay off 65 warehouse and clerical employees. The best I could do was to convince management that paying a thirty day severance package for the largely hourly workers who stayed until the bitter end was the right thing to do. I would like to say that I fought hard to make it happen but the truth is that some in our senior management team did have a heart after all. So much for the hard hearted ruthless business myth. They readily agreed but that was my second worst Christmas ever.
Disc two track four is "I'm always on a Mountain when I Fall". Anyone who have ever had self-doubts and struggled to make sense of life's obstacles will understand this song. "And now you say you're gonna leave me, seems everything I do winds up the same".
Track nine "I think I'll just stay here and Drink" could save a bunch of us a lot of time and misery if we had just heard it before we thought the answer was in a bottle.
Track eighteen "That's the way Love Goes" is just good harmony and music. Sometimes when all our plans and schemes don't work out the solution is as simple as Love.
So there you go a personal tour of a universal condition. Maybe next time I'll look for a more upbeat subject.