On this Memorial Day, I think back to my youth and specifically 1970, while a junior in college and facing the reality that I might well become cannon fodder half way around the world fighting a war that progressively appeared to be less and less worthy of an American risking his life. And while I wasn’t super vigilant about burning ROTC buildings and such in protest, I had a sneaking suspicion that Richard Nixon was up to no good and the entire war effort was misguided.
Still, I empathized with the other side and their point of view however deluded. And MERLE HAGGARD was the guy who impressed me most as the spokesperson for the “love it or leave it” ethos. It was just the purity of his sentiment that touched me. Redneck notwithstanding, his bluesy “Fightin’ Side of Me” caught my ear. ERIC CLAPTON and his merry band of hippies were surely my idols. But Merle and his leg-draggin’ guitar player turned my head around. Scoffing at country musicians and their message was pure folly for an aspiring artist. In my mind, there was no doubt they were for real!
In honor of that point of view, I present VINCE GILL‘s live version of “The Fightin’ Side of Me” for your enjoyment. Vince is no bad ass. Unlike Merle, I don’t picture him beating some guy up in a bar brawl. And he makes a lot of mistakes during the performance. But that doesn’t matter. He catches the essence of America and our freedoms beautifully. And that’s why I publish him today.
And here’s a live version of Merle hypnotizing the love it or leave it rednecks who idolized him.