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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Reason: The One On the Right Was On the Left...

The political puzzle of country music
Jesse Walker

The surprise tour of last year?a surprise, that is, to anyone whose worldview froze around 1970?was the series of concerts Bob Dylan did with Merle Haggard. In the last big culture war, Dylan was the guy who sang "You fasten the triggers/For the others to fire/Then you set back and watch/When the death count gets higher." Hag had a snappy number where he "read about some squirrelly guy who claims that he just don't believe in fightin'/And I wonder just how long the rest of us can count on bein' free." Put them together, and you get?
 
Apparently, you get kismet. In Rednecks & Bluenecks, an engaging expedition into the politics of country music, Entertainment Weekly's Chris Willman watches the pair play a date in Los Angeles. When Haggard asks everyone to sing along with his vintage hit for hippie-hating hardhats, "Okie from Muskogee," more than a few fans do, and "the singer reacts with mock alarm: 'This is Bob Dylan's audience! You're not supposed to be smoking?I mean singing?along with that!'"
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