Bob Dylan Clarifies His Remarks About Merle Haggard; No Apology For Tom T Hall
As we reported earlier, Bob Dylan had mean things to say about many of his contemporaries in the music world. Dylans remarks occurred as he accepted a Person of the Year award from MusicCares - as part of Grammy week.
Since that time, Dylan has clarified his remarks about Merle Haggard, saying in an interview on his website:
I wasn’t dissing Merle, not the Merle I know. What I was talking about happened a long time ago, maybe in the late sixties. Merle had that song out called “Fighting Side of Me” and I’d seen an interview with him where he was going on about hippies and Dylan and the counter culture, and it kind of stuck in my mind and hurt, lumping me in with everything he didn't like. But of course times have changed and he’s changed too. If hippies were around today, he’d be on their side and he himself is part of the counter culture … so yeah, things change. I’ve toured with him and have the highest regard for him, his songs, his talent - I even wanted him to play fiddle on one of my records and his Jimmie Rodgers tribute album is one of my favorites that I never get tired of listening to. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. He’s serious and he’s funny. He’s a complete man and we're friends these days. We have a lot in common. Back then, though, Buck and Merle were closely associated; two of a kind. They defined the Bakersfield sound. Buck reached out to me in those days, and lifted up my spirits when I was down, I mean really down - oppressed on all sides and down and that meant a lot, that Buck did that. I wasn’t dissing Merle at all, we were different people back then. Those were difficult times. It was more intense back then and things hit harder and hurt more.
So - we now know where Dylan was coming from in regards to Merle Haggard. The interview also briefly touches on the remarks he made about songwriters Leiber and Stoller.
One artist that is missing from Dylans remarks though is country legend Tom T Hall. In his speech, Dylan had this to say about the songwriter who just recently lost his wife of many years:
"Now some might say Tom was a great songwriter, and I’m not going to doubt that. At the time, during his interview, I was actually listening to a song of his on the radio in the recording studio. It was called “I Love.” And it was talking about all the things he loves. An everyman song. Trying to connect with people. Trying to make you think he’s just like you and you’re just like him. We all love the same things. We’re all in this together.
Tom loves little baby ducks. Slow-moving trains and rain. He loves big pickup trucks and little country streams. Sleep without dreams. Bourbon in a glass. Coffee in a cup. Tomatoes on a vine and onions.
Now listen, I’m not every going to disparage another songwriter. I’m not gonna do that. I’m not saying that’s a bad song, I’m just saying it might be a little over-cooked."
Continuing, Dylan praised Kris Kristofferson, his song “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and said, “That one song blew Tom T. Hall’s world apart. It might have sent him to the crazy house. God forbid he ever heard one of my songs. If ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ rattled Tom’s cage and sent him into the looney bin, my songs surely would have made him blow his brains out.”
In my previous article, I suggested that Dylan hadn't learned a thing from his days growing up in the northland. I still stand by my words.
[A music commentary/opinion piece that does not necessarily reflect the views of TSM]