Merle Haggard just died. He was responsible for my first and only time getting kicked out of a bar, back in 2006. Our trail crew just finished a couple month stint up in the Siskiyou Mountains just south of the Oregon border. It was late October and the snow had finally pushed us south.
We were headed to the desert, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, where it’s always warm and sunny. On our way down the long state of California, we stopped for a night in San Francisco. One of our crew members had gone to Stanford, so we rolled up in our van and spilled out into a swanky co-living space stories high. Haggard, hairy, and hungry for civilization, we set down our sleeping bags in a heap in their entry way and took the train into San Francisco.
After a day of sightseeing, we ended up at a joint on Haight-Ashbury. Reveling in the sounds of other people and hypnotized by the bright TVs broadcasting some football game, we embellished deep into the night. Eventually we found the jukebox. Willie & I packed it full of country tunes. Classic ones that we knew all the words to and had been singing in our heads for months out on the trail, keeping us company far from home. Finally, “Okie from Muskogee” came on and by the third verse, we were pushed out the street, our lungs still filled with those classic lines about hippies, into the gloriously blurry darkness of San Francisco in the deep morning.
Thank you Merle. You will be missed.
Sketches & scatterings. Rooted in Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River.