Merle Haggard vs. Johnny Cash

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because it came up on the Mellencamp vs. Springsteen thread and I had to think on it for a bit

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Merle Haggard 23
Johnny Cash 10


Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:14 (two weeks ago) Permalink

tbqh i aint heard enough Merle

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:16 (two weeks ago) Permalink

one's career inspired the other, both recorded reams of tossed off (and often silly) semi-garbage, both giants in the genre, both with multiple undeniable canonical classic songs, one with a (generally overrated and morbid imo) late career "renaissance" and the other not so much, both made great collaborators

inclined to say Hag is by far the better guitar player and maybe more subtle lyricist, maybe that puts him over the top

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Don’t forget bandleader as well. Merle by a (country) mile.

Harper Valley CTA-102 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i listen to Merle a lot, lot, lot more than Johnny. that's not an answer, necessarily.

Leon Carrotsky (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Hag played expert lead and terrific rhythm guitar, was more than competent fiddler too.

This isn't even close for me. As much as I like many Cash songs, pick any Hag comp you want and the range of his songwriting staggers me. By the mid eighties his vocal choices (on good material, mind) put me in mind of Bing, Sinatra, Willie Nelson, like that. And Hag made plenty of good albums as albums: Someday We'll Look Back, Serving 190 Proof, Back in the Barrooms, Big City, Kern River, and a bunch of good shit this century: If I Could Only Fly, I Am What I Am, Working in Tennessee.

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

one with a (generally overrated and morbid imo) late career "renaissance" and the other not so much

I don't hate what I've heard of the Rick Rubin Johnny Cash stuff, but I vastly prefer Merle's If I Could Only Fly from 2000 which, for whatever reason (lack of a NIN cover, lack of a video), didn't seem to get noticed much.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:27 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Cash was mercurial and occasionally transcendent but Merle was just consistently first-rate.

I'd think more highly of Cash if the Rubin stuff had never happened tbphwu

rip van wanko, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:34 (two weeks ago) Permalink

With Johnny there is sometimes a sense that he is hiding behind or getting a pass because of his iconic voice/persona/look which sense I don’t get with Merle. But heck, I would probably vote for Merle just for writing this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKfJBfRrSX8

Harper Valley CTA-102 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

vastly prefer Merle's If I Could Only Fly from 2000 which, for whatever reason (lack of a NIN cover, lack of a video), didn't seem to get noticed much.

It has one of the most perfect opening couplets I've ever heard:

Watching while some old friends do a line
Holding back the want to end my own addicted mind

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:36 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I would have to say I definitely listen to Hag more than Cash as well, but as NV says that is not necessarily a vote.

In Cash's defense, I don't think Haggard has anything as monumental as the "Live at Folsom Prison" album in his catalog. And Cash cut a towering figure through the genre in a way that Haggard didn't, Hag himself was very deferential to Cash as a trailblazer. Cash made a big show (literally in terms of his TV show) in expanding the range of the genre and giving exposure to others and crossing lines - whether it was with Dylan or Kristofferson or whoever. He had an outsize role in the genre and he acted like it. And while his voice is not nearly as versatile or expressive, but Cash's baritone is an instrument like no other. It's like hearing a rock singing.

Haggard probably has the better discography on the whole though. There is a *lot* of crap and failed experiments and just sloppily assembled stuff in Cash's catalog.

Cash was mercurial and occasionally transcendent but Merle was just consistently first-rate.

this seems about right. Haggard had that pluggin-along work ethic.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

That this is even a question says a lot about the power of marketing. Merle Haggard was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Johnny Cash did a lot with average abilities, supported others as mentioned above, and had a tremendous understanding of image.

grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

merle vs waylon vs willie vs townes vs prine i don't think i could pick one or rank them

rip van wanko, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:41 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'd take Merle over all those dudes except maybe Nelson, who's a fantastic songwriter even if I don't actually listen to his records very often.

grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:46 (two weeks ago) Permalink

merle vs waylon vs willie vs townes vs prine i don't think i could pick one or rank them

townes and prine are way down the line but Willie and Merle and Waylon are all about equally matched imo

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:47 (two weeks ago) Permalink

What about Merle vs. Buck? (cf. relevant Bob Dylan remarks)

Harper Valley CTA-102 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:48 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I looooooooooooove Buck, his sound is all-time and him and Don Rich singing together is almost as beautiful as the Louvin Bros but... Merle is def a better songwriter and guitar player than Buck.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Have you listened to the recent relevant podcast(s) about Buck and Don yet?

Harper Valley CTA-102 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:50 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Willie is I think the best from that bunch which says more about Willie than it does the others. I think the consistent quality of his more recent work is remarkable, that puts him over the others for me.

omar little, Thursday, 4 October 2018 19:59 (two weeks ago) Permalink

as for the thread I love Cash but Merle is more my speed these days.

omar little, Thursday, 4 October 2018 20:00 (two weeks ago) Permalink

johnny hit higher highs

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 4 October 2018 20:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Have you listened to the recent relevant podcast(s) about Buck and Don yet?

I'm aware of these but nah I don't do podcasts, generally

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 20:09 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Only one of these guys was a guest villain on Columbo, so

Engles in the Outfield (cryptosicko), Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:25 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I don't think I've intentionally listened to Waylon. Where to start?

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:50 (two weeks ago) Permalink

at the beginning!

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:51 (two weeks ago) Permalink

he's most famous for his 70s "outlaw" stuff but I love it all, including tons of his early Nashville hits. I mean, check this out
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na3GjSyST_o

(Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line is from '66, that performance is from '71, just before he grew his hair out)

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:53 (two weeks ago) Permalink

xpost Now I'm imagining Merle singing cuts from The Sound of Music.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:53 (two weeks ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0M7JaPymtg

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:54 (two weeks ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2QbDlvgHw8

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:56 (two weeks ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8AL_rHp7Yk

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 21:57 (two weeks ago) Permalink

There's a two CD comp called Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line that's a good intro

The Desus & Mero Chain (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 4 October 2018 22:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Watching while some old friends do a line
Holding back the want to end my own addicted mind

pretty sure it's "in my own addicted mind"

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Thursday, 4 October 2018 23:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

this is merle by the way but it's close. the early JC sides are better than Elvis's best-of imo.

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Thursday, 4 October 2018 23:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Typical chachallops

Harper Valley CTA-102 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 4 October 2018 23:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Elvis is a tough nut to crack for me, I'm inclined to agree w JCLC on that count

Οὖτις, Thursday, 4 October 2018 23:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

It's not a determining factor, but I remember when listening to the Merle episode of Cocaine & Rhinestones learning that every last single Merle released for a span of 20 straight years went to the country top 10. TWENTY YEARS. That blows my mind.

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 4 October 2018 23:25 (two weeks ago) Permalink

yeah Merle's glory run was fucking insane.

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Thursday, 4 October 2018 23:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

btw let's just random-sample jc vs elvis. posit for elvis: mystery train, all shook up, heartbreak hotel, love me tender, jailhouse rock, suspicious minds, can't help falling in love with you, are you lonesome tonight, kentucky rain, always on my mind. cash: folsom prison blues, ring of fire, i walk the line, a boy named sue, ring of fire, don't take your guns to town, sunday morning coming down, big river*, there ain't no good chain gang**, sunday morning comin down

if that's not neck-and-neck for anybody then we don't see eye to eye & I'll take the cash mixtape about 7 times outta 10.

*this is only on my personal best of johnny cash list I'd venture but it's so fuckin great I gotta.
**same

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Thursday, 4 October 2018 23:45 (two weeks ago) Permalink

There's plenty of Cash I like, but I am a diehard Elvis fan. Also, I wish it wasn't so, but "Ring of Fire" is better as a cover than in the original. Those fucking horns (and I like mariachi music) ruin it for me.

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 5 October 2018 00:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I lurve Johnny's live prison albums, does Merle have the equivalent? I need to listen to more Merle.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 5 October 2018 00:07 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Merle was an inmate at San Quentin when Johnny Cash did his show there.

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Friday, 5 October 2018 00:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Merle and it's not even close

Now, Merle vs Willie, that's a toughie

Paul Ponzi, Friday, 5 October 2018 00:16 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Feel like this has some parallels to the Paul Simon vs. Leonard Cohen debate

The Desus & Mero Chain (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 5 October 2018 01:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

pretty sure it's "in my own addicted mind"

― she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi)

I got that from Genius lol

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 October 2018 01:59 (two weeks ago) Permalink

It’s definitely “in.” Lyrics were in the CD booklet.

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 5 October 2018 02:42 (two weeks ago) Permalink

apples/oranges

F# A# (∞), Friday, 5 October 2018 02:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i assumed JCLC was just comparing cash's sun sessions to elvis's sun sessions -- elvis wins that one IMO, but if you're comparing entire careers it's probably cash

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 5 October 2018 17:28 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Elvis wins Sun sessions easily imo!

rip van wanko, Friday, 5 October 2018 17:33 (two weeks ago) Permalink

if we're gonna rank canonical Cash songs mine looks something like:

Cry! Cry! Cry!
I Walk the Line
I Still Miss Someone
Five Feet High and Rising
Ring of Fire
Jackson
Don't Take Your Guns to Town
Folsom Prison Blues
Daddy Sang Bass
Flesh and Blood
Man in Black
A Boy Named Sue
Sunday Morning Coming Down

Οὖτις, Friday, 5 October 2018 17:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 10 October 2018 00:01 (one week ago) Permalink

Here's what Hag could do in the mid-eighties:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jlVdC4qxsQ

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 10 October 2018 00:19 (one week ago) Permalink

always fond of this wilderness-years Hag track

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Xx_FWKEkE

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Wednesday, 10 October 2018 00:25 (one week ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJSLTrf8F3A

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 10 October 2018 01:53 (one week ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 11 October 2018 00:01 (one week ago) Permalink

omigod YES

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2018 00:01 (one week ago) Permalink

wow this guy has some critically acclaimed albums!

https://i.imgur.com/Qay1iu2.png

niels, Thursday, 11 October 2018 07:10 (one week ago) Permalink

Lol

Harper Valley CTA-102 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 11 October 2018 12:03 (one week ago) Permalink


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