Merle Haggard Says Today’s Country Is All “The Same Band, The Same Sound”


Merle Haggard remains on tour, and remains on the warpath against the direction of today’s country music, at least when asked about the matter by the press. The Hag was interviewed ahead of a show in Toledo, Ohio at the Stranahan Theater on September 9th, and didn’t mince words when questioned what he thought about today’s country sound and the artists making it.

“It needs a melody,” Haggard said to The Blade. “It needs a melody real bad. Not sure what they’ll have to remember. A song is defined as words put to music, but I don’t hear any music. All I hear is the same band, the same sound, and everybody screaming to the ceiling. You stand off at a distance and you couldn’t tell who they are. They are all screaming for one note they can barely get. I don’t find it very entertaining. I wish I did.”

Merle then contrasted this with what he does with his band when he takes the stage.

“We do about 90 minutes and have an unplanned format to go from point A to point B and have about 100 songs to pick from. No one knows what they’ll be, including me. It’s been since 1969 since I’ve had a list on stage. I decide what the second song will be while I’m singing the first one.”

But there is one modern performer Merle Haggard apparently does still respect, surprisingly—none other than pop superstar Taylor Swift. “I think Taylor Swift is doing real good. I don’t know if there is any hayseed there or country music anymore, but I’m a Taylor Swift fan.”

So there’s that.

Merle’s comments come on the heels of similar sentiments he shared on September 3rd when he said, “I can’t tell what they’re doing. They’re talking about screwing on a pickup tailgate and things of that nature. I don’t find no substance. I don’t find anything you can whistle and nobody even attempts to write a melody. It’s more of that kids stuff. It’s hot right now, but I’ll tell you what, it’s cooling off.”

Merle Haggard has been known to speak out upon occasion during his career when folks get on the “Fightin’ Side” of the 78-year-old performer, but he seems to have really stepped up the rhetoric lately about today’s country—possibly a symptom of just how far country has slid in 2015.

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