Posted in Californication, culture, family, history, music, Okies

Okie Country Song: “California Cotton Fields”

It’s nice to find Okie-themed songs that aren’t by Woody Guthrie.  Not that all of his were bad, but a lot of us have mixed feelings about him for all kinds of reasons both good and bad.  (Mine are mostly around the fact he made a living off making fun of us as much as anything else.  But tempered by the knowledge that is making a living in a situation where especially at first he had no guarantee of one.)

Anyway as far as I know this is just a straight-up story from Merle Haggard’s life.  I’ve always liked Merle Haggard’s music.  He was one of the pioneers of the Bakersfield Sound, basically Californian country music, mostly Okie in origin, that sounded very different from Nashville either at the time or since.  Bakersfield being one of the largest cities in the San Joaquin Valley where the Okies lived, and one of the big centers for country & western music in California. This is mostly about the way people from Oklahoma and surrounding states, largely but not entirely during the Dust Bowl and Depression eras, were lured into California with promises of a standard of living that didn’t pan out.  A method of getting a cheap farm labor force into the state that hasn’t changed much. 😦 My family got lucky, after some time in the labor camps they were able to buy a series of small farms (one at a time, not owning several at once!) they spent the rest of their lives in debt over before being pushed out of farming altogether.  Most Okies didn’t even get that.
California cotton fields.
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Author:

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

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