Merle Haggard – Are The Good Times Really Over ——— Songs that reference The Beatles

Back before Elvis, before Vietnam war came along, Before the Beatles and Yesterday

I’m wrapping up the songs that reference the Beatles today…I thought  Merle Haggard and Frank Zappa would be a good stopping point. Hope you enjoyed the posts.

This song has staying power because every generation longs for the culture of the ones before it. One could easily insert 21st-century phrasing into his classic hit, interchanging microwaves with iPhones, etc. Every single generation looks for a Golden Age, a time where they could pinpoint that everything was right in the world.

This song peaked at #2 in the Billboard Hot Country Song Charts and #1 in Canada in 1982.

Merle had 38 number one hits, 71 top ten hits, and 101 songs in the top 100 in the country charts. It’s hard to wrap my head around 38 number one songs on any chart.

 

Are The Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)

I wish a buck was still silver
It was back when the country was strong
Back before Elvis, before Vietnam war came along
Before the Beatles and yesterday
When a man could still work and still would
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good?And are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell
With no kinda chance for the flag or the liberty bell?
Wish a Ford and a Chevy
Would still last ten years like they should
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good?

I wish coke was still cola
And a joint was a bad place to be
It was back before Nixon lied to us all on T.V
Before microwave ovens when a girl could still cook, and still would
Is the best of the free life behind us now
Are the good times really over for good?Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell
With no kinda chance for the flag or the liberty bell
Wish a Ford and a Chevy
Would still last ten years like they should
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good?Stop rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell
Stand up for the flag and let’s all ring the liberty bell
Let’s make a Ford and a Chevy
That would still last ten years like they should
‘Cause the best of the free life is still yet to come
And the good times ain’t over for good

Merle Haggard – Workin’ Man Blues

Merle Haggard had 38 number one hits, 71 top ten hits, and 101 songs in the top 100 in the country charts. I don’t listen to many country artists but Merle I do… Haggard wrote the song as a tribute to his working-class fan base. When the guitar riff starts up…I am hooked. Workin’ Man Blues” was a track on Haggard’s 1969 album A Portrait of Merle Haggard.

Haggard took the lead guitar lines himself, augmented by the great session player James Burton, who had made his reputation playing on all Ricky Nelson‘s great early hits and also played for Elvis Presley.

Lewis Talley added a third guitar on the track, with bass by Chuck Berghofer;  the drummer was Jim Gordon, known for his work with Delaney & Bonnie and as a member of Derek and the Dominos.

The song peaked at #1 in the Hot 100 Country Charts and #1 in the  Canadian RPM Country Tracks in 1969.

From Songfacts

“Working Man Blues” is about as obviously aimed as you can get, at the core audience of his fans, being blue-collar workers. Even at that, Haggard poses for the cover of the single in full business suit, tie, watch, and all. It’s sort of a cool solidarity with the audience, and a sympathetic bit of self-deprecating humor – “Don’t I look ridiculous like this?” The suit even seems to be tailored in a just-this-side-of-dandy fashion, just to make the point.

“Working Man Blues” is an excellent example of the country music sub-genre known as the “Bakersfield Sound.” Bakersfield, California was the locus of a back-to-basics breed of Country music in the ’60s and ’70s, popularized by Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and the Buckaroos. It was kind of a “punking” of Country music, removing the slick studio production to focus on the bare essentials.

You can’t believe it thanks to the urban sprawl and metropolitan development today, but Bakersfield was once just as rural as the name suggests. As recently as 1970, it was just ranches and farms, from the freeway to the horizon, with a few “wide places in the road” for buildings. Today it’s the same smoggy concrete jungle that the rest of California is.

Haggard had an amazing work ethic, firing off an average of three albums in the space of a year. Critics noted that the prolific pace didn’t hurt the quality; music critic Mark Deming noted that a performer would be lucky to have the hits spanning a career that Haggard could pack into one album.

Working Man Blues

It’s a big job just gettin’ by with nine kids and a wife
I been a workin’ man dang near all my life 
I’ll be working long as my two hands are fit to use 
I’ll drink my beer in a tavern, 
Sing a little bit of these working man blues

I keep my nose on the grindstone, I work hard every day
Might get a little tired on the weekend, after I draw my pay
But I’ll go back workin, come Monday morning I’m right back with the crew
I’ll drink a little beer that evening, 
Sing a little bit of these working man blues

Hey hey, the working man, the working man like me
I ain’t never been on welfare, that’s one place I won’t be
Cause I’ll be working long as my two hands are fit to use
I drink a little beer in a tavern
Sing a little bit of these working man blues

Sometimes I think about leaving, do a little bummin’ around
I wanna throw my bills out the window catch a train to another town
But I go back working I gotta buy my kids a brand new pair of shoes
Yeah drink a little beer in a tavern,
Cry a little bit of these working man blues

Hey hey, the working man, the working man like me
I ain’t never been on welfare, that’s one place I won’t be
Cause I’ll be working long as my two hands are fit to use
I drink a little beer in a tavern
Sing a little bit of these working man blues
Yeah drink a little beer in a tavern,
Cry a little bit of these working man blues

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried

Merle Haggard wrote this song while serving time in San Quentin prison for robbery. The song is based on his life, and how his mother tried to help him but couldn’t… This song came out in 1968 and peaked at #1 in the Country Charts in 1968.

The man had 38 number one hits, 71 top ten hits, and 101 songs in the top 100 in the country charts. Merle is one of my favorite country artists. If only the new ones would listen and learn.

This song has been covered by a wide range of artists, including the Everly Brothers and the Grateful Dead.

From Songfacts

The song is largely autobiographical; Haggard’s father died when he was nine years old, and his mother, a devout member of the Church of Christ, tried to keep him on the straight and narrow with a strict upbringing based on her conservative values. This didn’t sit well with Haggard, who said he was an “incorrigible” child and constantly rebelling against her (“Despite all my Sunday learning, towards the bad I kept on turning”).

He was always hopping on freight trains (“The first thing I remember knowing was a lonesome whistle blowing”), an early indicator of his itinerant outlaw personality. He got into trouble for offenses like shoplifting and writing bad checks. Stints in reform school didn’t help, and in 1957 he landed in prison for burglary, where he spent his 21st birthday.

In this song, Haggard takes full responsibility for his choices and takes pity on his mother, who did the best she could (“No one could steer me right but Mama tried”).

Mama Tried

The first thing I remember knowing,
Was a lonesome whistle blowing,
And a young un’s dream of growing up to ride,
On a freight train leaving town,
Not knowing where I’m bound,
And no one could change my mind but Mama tried
One and only rebel child,
From a family, meek and mild,
My Mama seemed to know what lay in store
Despite my Sunday learning,
Towards the bad, I kept turning
‘Til Mama couldn’t hold me anymore

I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole.
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried

Dear old Daddy, rest his soul,
Left my Mom a heavy load,
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Working hours without rest,
Wanted me to have the best
She tried to raise me right but I refused

I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried,
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried