Wednesday, September 2, 2009

'Country-singing Merles'

At first I wanted to nominate Merv Griffin, on the off chance that Mr. and Mrs. Griffin, some time back in the thirties or whatever, actually said, “Oh my God! It’s a boy! Let’s name him Merv!

It turns out, however, that the Griffin family brainstorm actually produced “Mervyn”, a name which, while assuredly weird, is much more name-like than “Merv”.So on it goes to the Merles of the world. It takes a strong man to have a name that rhymes not only with “pearl” but also with “squirrel”, but for some reason fully three country-and-western singers have drawled their ways through life with the name “Merle”. And none of them decided to adopt stage names. All three of them are really Merles. So here they are, in all their glory:

Merle Haggard, an all-round awesome name that tops up the “Merle” with an adjective that means tired and rundown, and apparently has albums called “Swinging Doors and the Bottle Let Me Down” – pinnacles of nomenclatural awesomeness.

Merle Kilgore, the one I’d never heard of, though apparently he co-wrote Johnny Cash’s awesome country ‘n’ mariachi hit “Ring of Fire”, for which he’d always have a place at my table if he weren’t dead. Kilgore is an impressive name too, being a combination of two features of horror movies or, back in the nineties, an exhortation to assassinate the vice-president.

Merle Travis, the one with the plainest name and, based on Wikipedia’s assertion that ‘his lyrics often discussed the exploitation of coal miners’, the biggest dork. And to win a dork-race among Merles, well that’s saying something.

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