I’m so glad to live in an affluent country where we can have controversy and outrage about who is using which public rest room. And where state legislatures controlled by purported small-government politicians can pass laws prohibiting local governments from legislating certain things. Poorer countries have concerns about toilets more basic than the gender of the person using one.
Language is a living, ever-evolving organism. The meanings and uses of words change over time. If a word is misused enough over a long-enough period of time, it becomes part of the accepted language.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump expressed outrage at the method used by Colorado Republicans to choose delegates to the party’s convention in Cleveland this summer. “Nobody should take delegates and claim victory unless they get those delegates with voters and voting,” Republican presidential front-runner railed. “It’s a crooked system. It’s a system that’s rigged. And we’re going to go back to the old way; it’s called, you vote and you win.”
Except that wasn’t the old way…
The band came out first, dressed in dark suits. They warmed up the crowd with a couple songs before Merle Haggard came on stage. He also wore a suit. Underneath his jacket, instead of white shirt and tie, he sported a red hoodie sweatshirt, white drawstrings hanging down. The hood flopped in the back; a cowboy hat was pulled down over his gray mane.
The Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the Sea is a long way from Bakersfield by most any measure. This show attracted more cowboy boots than had ever been inside the venue. Haggard prefaced the song “Workin’ Man Blues” by saying people in Carmel might not understand it, but then “You probably did all your working before you got to Carmel.”
He closed the show with the provocative “Okie From Muskogee.” Haggard’s parents came from Oklahoma to Oildale, California, where Merle was born. He introduced the song by saying he had written it for his father. He instructed the audience to sing the first line, “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee.” He said that wasn’t loud enough and to do it again. We did, with more enthusiasm. Haggard finished the song by stating he doesn’t smoke marijuana much any more.
Click here for a later version of “Okie” with Marty Stuart and Willie Nelson.