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Matt Farmer

Matt Farmer

Posted: July 27, 2010 09:40 AM

I love Merle Haggard. He's an American treasure. His music went in deep when I was a kid, and over the last forty years, my appreciation of his talents as a singer, songwriter, and (highly underrated) guitar player has only increased.

For those simple reasons, I was thrilled to catch an American Masters special on Merle last Wednesday night on PBS. The show was wonderful.

When it ended, I changed channels and happened upon a local news recap of the day's events at the criminal trial of Rod Blagojevich.

The sudden switch from Haggard to Blago jarred my brain, but it also got me thinking. Even though the jury has yet to decide Blago's fate, our former governor sure seems like a guy who deserves his own prison song. The Haggard documentary inspired me to grab my guitar and a pad of paper.

I'd written Blago-inspired music once before. Back in December 2008, I wrote Pay To Play just days after his arrest. Two years later, a prison tune seems like a fitting musical bookend.

Since the trial is winding down, I gave myself a deadline: write the tune on Friday, July 23 and record it over the weekend. I had already blocked out that Friday as a vacation day from the office, and my lovely wife and kids were kind enough to let me have my musical fun. As a result, I was able to stay on schedule. By Sunday afternoon, my buddy Brian Wilkie was laying down some great guitar lines on a piece of music he'd first heard only minutes earlier.

In any event, the project is now in the can, but Blago's fate remains unknown. My youngest brother is convinced that Blago "is going to walk and then go on to become one of our nation's great D-list celebrities." Should that happen, the song will certainly become my own "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment.

Oh well, I had fun writing and recording it just the same. So with a tip of the hat to Mr. Haggard, here is the video for "Radio Blago." (YouTube occasionally plays tricks with uploaded audio quality, so if you're one of those twisted folks who happens to need a clean copy of this song, just let me know.)


RADIO BLAGO (Matt Farmer)

Do you think they'll let me play all the tapes in prison?
Do you think they'll try to trim my jet-black hair?
I'm gonna tell my tale, and the world will finally listen
When the warden puts my talk show on the air

Well, they took me from the people
On a cold December day
In handcuffs and my running shoes
I was quickly hauled away

And then like Gandhi and Mandela
I was thrown into a cell
Just a champion of the working man
From the humble House of Mell

Do you think they'll let me play all the tapes in prison?
Do you think they'll try to trim my jet-black hair?
I'm gonna tell my tale, and the world will finally listen
When the warden puts my talk show on the air

Then I made the rounds on TV
Just to let the people know
That the man they'd twice elected
Was as pure as driven snow

And I even got to talkin'
With the women from The View
About that "golden" conversation
That started this whole to-do

So now I'm off to prison
But the truth will set me free
And I'll preach it every evening
On WROD

You see, the warden wants to hear me
On the prison radio
As the late-night voice from Cellblock Three
In state-run stereo

Do you think they'll let me play all the tapes in prison?
Do you think they'll try to trim my jet-black hair?
I'm gonna tell my tale, and the world will finally listen
When the warden puts my talk show on the air

 

Follow Matt Farmer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mifarmer