Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Listen to (The Seashores Of) Old Mexico by Merle Haggard.

Today's song is by a man that really needs no introductions or explanations as to why he's important or overlooked (as we often do here). Yes, we hold some truths to be self-evident around here, and Merle Haggard's place in the pantheon of pop is right up there with the B's and Dylan. Haggard's songs are little miracles of economy, often expressing subtle and widely ranging emotions in neat, 2:30 minute packages (see "If We Make it Through December" or "Pride in What I Am"). And his melodies! They are really lovely, with hints of many diverse American styles running throughout (dixieland, folk, jazz).

"(The Seashores of) Old Mexico" is taken from Haggard's 1974 record Merle Haggard Presents His 30th Album. No, it's not a creative title, but it sure does say something about the man's creative output between 1965 and 1974--That's right, 30 albums, very much of it of genius-level quality. Today's song is an escape fantasy of the first order and Haggard certainly earned his right to the title of "King of the Road", seeing as how so much of his material is either about movement (on trains, planes, etc.) or being trapped (in prisons, bars, etc.) and wanting to move.

Anyway, "(The Seashores of) Old Mexico" tells an archetypal story of an American on the lam, finding both freedom and love in the warmer and more forgiving environs of Mexico. This is an escape fantasy I hold particularly dear, but I also love how Haggard traces his actual route to freedom in the song--Tucson to Juarez, Durango, Colima and finally to Manzanillo. I've made much of that drive and it's just as good as the song makes it out to be.

Photo: San Augustinillo Playa, Oax.



Penny said...

I'd forgotten Merle did this. George Strait has brought it back but Merle sounds great and I appreciate you reminding me. Thanks!

Corbett said...

Glad you enjoyed it! I didn't know George Strait did this, so I'll have to go find it now.