These days, country music, which was long ago swallowed into the homogenizing pop culture machine, is like any other element of entertainment media: It lacks decorum, glorifies wealth and is geared toward the basest concerns of the masses. The only thing that distinguishes it is a Southern accent and that boot in your ass. Once upon a time, though, country music had its own identity, one that was far from the artless, soulless corporate goo oozing out of your radios and televisions. It was proud, pastoral, working class and sometimes a little rowdy. Long associated with that kind of country (and the right wing), these days the legendary Merle Haggard seems a bit pained by the country's corrosion. A few years ago, the Okie from Muskogee, who is now in his 70s wrote and sang, "What happened, does anybody know? / What happened, where did America go? / Everything Wal-Mart all the time / No more mom and pop five and dimes." See Haggard, poet of the common man, shun artifice down in Mescalero tonight.
Tonight! Merle Haggard
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino · 8 p.m. · $25-$100 thru Ticketmaster
Where the Hell Am I?
Hi, my name is Juan Maloso and I live nowhere.
I am what you call a city slicker, but my chosen line of work has taken me to small towns across America. I move more than Mongolian sheep herders. I never get to really know anyone outside of work, and before long, I move on.
Most of these locales are at the very least semi-rural and at the most, the country.
Since I was born and raised on concrete, the country is often a source of amusement—the amusement of the country residents at me.