The summer after I graduated, I put off college because I knew I was going on a mission in seven months. During the summer, I worked as a hot roofer for 14 hours a day. It was extremely hard work, and I really respect the people who do it for a living. But it also gave me a body and a tan that got me a ton of action.
In the early fall, I went to work a warehouse job at Delvie’s Plastics, where I made good friends with two middle-aged people: Carol, and A.C., a half-Native American, half-Mexican ex-alcoholic who had a thing with the pretty-boy U.P.S. worker who came every day. It was almost always a battle—it was also hilarious.
Well, A.C., the foreman, would allow nothing but country music in his warehouse. After a while, I got used to it. Months later, I even got to like it, especially Merle Haggard.
Merle Haggard’s single-best album is Mama Tried (1968), with a great mix of originals and covers. But everyone should own Haggard’s Best Of -- Songs I’ll Always Sing ('76). It’s one of the single-best country records available.
And a drinking contest between Keith Richards, Merle Haggard and me would be very interesting. I wonder who would win?