Turning 21 In Prison
Turning 21 in Prison
During the mid-1960s, an explosion of prison literature hit the American scene. Until then, the Black prison experience had been predominantly oral. With the release of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the prison experience became an increasingly influential theme in American literature.
Many blues artists had served time in prison. Their songs often portrayed prison life as a harsh reality. The blues tradition has become the foundation of modern American music. Its influence has fueled the jazz, rock, and soul genres.
Among the most famous blues artists are Jerry Lee Lewis and Merle Haggard. These artists were both prisoners. “Mama Tried” is Haggard’s signature composition. It has been covered by everyone from the Grateful Dead to Percy Sledge.
During the late ’60s, an awareness of prison life swept across the country. Many people, including Johnny Cash, played shows in prison cafeterias. Johnny Cash also pushed Columbia Records to allow him to record in prisons. He sang for free at Folsom and San Quentin.
During the late ’60s, a labor dispute at Brushy Mountain prison shut the facility down. It was during this time that the United States Marshall Service swarmed into Morgan County. The resulting sanitation strike was on going when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
The Penitentiary Blues album is a collection of voodoo blues. Its cover depicts hoodoo imagery, with the image of death at its center. The title cut is a reminiscence of working on a prison farm in late teens.
The album is more blues than country. It also features themes taken from Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Rich.
The Penitentiary Blues was released in 1970 on SSS International Records. It is a dark record, compared to the lighter country records of the time. The album contains a few songs that are a little over-the-top. It also contains traces of later lyrical genius.
The Penitentiary Blues title track is a very stereotypical picture of prison life. It is sung in an imitative voice. Its lyrics include “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.”
The title cut also includes mention of taking blood tests for heroin. It is not clear what David Allan Coe meant by “working” on the prison farm.
Okie from Muskogee
Despite the fact that it was one of the most popular and successful songs ever recorded, Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” was one of the most misunderstood pop hits of all time. The song’s lyrics and satirical tone were sometimes misinterpreted by listeners.
“Okie from Muskogee” reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1969. It stayed at number one for four weeks. It was also selected as the single of the year by the Academy of Country Music.
In addition to being a hit, “Okie from Muskogee” won Merle Haggard the prestigious title of Album of the Year. The song was also nominated for Song of the Year. In fact, “Okie from Muskogee” polarized the country music world.
Haggard wrote the majority of the 20 tracks on Okie From Muskogee. The song also featured James Burton on guitar. Haggard also wrote the lyrics of the song, which often seemed like an indictment of the liberalization of the late 1960s.
“Okie from Muskogee” has become a classic of country music. The song has been re-released multiple times and is available for download. The song has also been a part of Haggard’s live album.
In fact, it was Merle Haggard’s live performance of “Okie from Muskogee” that led to the song’s popularity. After a performance in Philadelphia in 1970, Haggard received an enthusiastic audience response. Afterward, Merle was asked to perform the song again. After a long wait, Merle finally sang the song.
The song is not a satire or indictment of the late 1960s, but rather a tongue-in-cheek satire of middle America. Its lyrics include jokes and a humorous chorus. Many critics find the song difficult to understand.
While the song’s meaning is a bit vague, it does have an impact on the meaning of the word “okie”. “Okie” is an Oklahoma slang term. Merle Haggard’s song was a huge hit and has been one of the best-selling hits in country music history.
“Okie from Muskogee” is a tongue-in-cheek song that has a lasting impact on the meaning of the word “okie.” It’s one of the most misunderstood hits of all time.