The legendary singer says he wasn’t dissing Merle Haggard at his captivating MusiCares Person of the Year speech.
Last week, Bob Dylan had a room full of powerful people completely captivated by his words. During his 30-minute acceptance speech for the MusiCares Person of the Year award, Dylan recounted his career, thanked his supporters and called out a few folks he felt slighted by. One of them seemed to be Merle Haggard, but Dylan says that’s a misinterpretation.
In his speech, Dylan said Haggard “didn’t even think much of my songs. I know he didn’t … Buck Owens did, and he recorded some of my early songs … Buck Owens or Merle Haggard? If you had to have somebody’s blessing, you can figure it out.”
Haggard was a bit surprised and tweeted this response:
Bob Dylan I've admired your songs since 1964. "Don't Think Twice" Bob, Willie and I just recorded it on our new album.
— Merle Haggard (@merlehaggard) February 7, 2015
After the dust settled, Dylan followed up with author Bill Flanagan in an interview about the speech.
“I wasn’t dissing Merle, not the Merle I know,” said Dylan. “What I was talking about happened a long time ago, maybe in the late sixties. Merle had that song out called “Fighting Side of Me” and I’d seen an interview with him where he was going on about hippies and Dylan and the counter culture, and it kind of stuck in my mind and hurt, lumping me in with everything he didn’t like.”
I’ve toured with [Haggard] and have the highest regard for him, his songs, his talent
Dylan continued, “But of course times have changed and he’s changed too. If hippies were around today, he’d be on their side and he himself is part of the counter culture … so yeah, things change. I’ve toured with him and have the highest regard for him, his songs, his talent – I even wanted him to play fiddle on one of my records and his Jimmie Rodgers tribute album is one of my favorites that I never get tired of listening to. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. He’s serious and he’s funny. He’s a complete man and we’re friends these days. We have a lot in common.”
For more of Dylan’s remarks about his MusiCares acceptance speech, along with a wildly interesting explanation of the origin of blues music, head over to Bob Dylan’s official page.