[Merle Haggard and legendary western suit maker Nudie Cohn, circa 1970's. © Jeff Albertson/CORBIS]
"Singing is the number one therapy. If you can get somewhere and holler for an hour and a half, you'll feel good."
Merle Haggard said this to me and I believe it. I'm that girl you see driving down the highway with her mouth wide open, belting out whatever it is I'm listening to, while you look on laughing and thanking your lucky stars that I'm in my car and not your car. You know the one. They've always got that diva scowl on. The one that says, "these lyrics are the soundtrack to my life." Sometimes they're even doing the steering wheel drums. I can't do those. No sense of inner rhythm. Despite being one of these people, nothing makes my day more than when I see another Freeway Liberace, singing at the top of their lungs as if they forgot their windows were see through; whether they're completely rockin' out, getting their bass groove on, or ready to internally combust from trying to hit those unearthly notes in their favorite Mariah love ballad. I salute these men and women. Their lives are probably 50% less stressful than the guy in the lane next to them who isn't screaming his favorite Billy Idol song. They're also probably 50% less likely to go postal on the rest of their office when their Swingline stapler gets jammed. Did we learn nothing from our high school yearbook notes? "Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching." [Author's Note: Did you know that Mark Twain is the originator of this quote? Who said Mark Twain wasn't relevant to real life.]
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Here's the interview I did with the legend himself, Merle Haggard. It was fun designing the layout. My inspiration for the header was old "Wanted" posters and Country Playbills like the ones Hatch Show Print used to put out. The thing that struck me most about Merle was that he truly is the voice of the blue collar man. It's like he has no idea he's an American icon. First priority on his mind is how soon he can go fishing. That's what I love about doing these interviews - being reminded that these people who seem so unreachable and so high above the rest of us peons are just regular everyday human beings when it comes down to it.
Listening to: The Walkmen's "Stranded"