COUNTRY MUSIC MEETS IMPEACHMENT: Our struggle with one of the Tex Montanas!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2019

A war which continues today:
In fairness, Merle Haggard didn't start the Nixon-era culture war, a war which has continued right through to the present day.

He didn't start that culture war, but he certainly helped it along! Just consider our own encounter with one of the Tex Montanas.

Who don't refer to Tulsa's Tex Montana, the "pioneer on [that city's] rock [and rockabilly] scene"—also, an accomplished visual artist—who died of cancer in 2014.

We don't refer to the Tex Montana of Tex Montana Will Survive!, the 2014 feature film you can watch on YouTube for free.

Almost surely, we refer instead to the Tex Montana who recorded the rockabilly single, Devil or An Angel, back in 1958. To hear that single, click here.

We encountered Montana twelve years after he cut that record, in the late summer of 1970. The story unfolds like this:

We were attending a wedding in Massena, New York, "a town... along the county's northern border, just south of the St. Lawrence River and the Three Nations Crossing of the Canada–United States border." So says the leading authority on this far northern border outpost.

Massena is about as far north of Nashville as you can get without being forced to play hockey. But here's the story on the Tex Montana to whom we refer, as related in comments to his 1958 song:
RUSTIN (2015): The Tex Montana I knew owned a country & western bar in Massena named the Diamond Horseshoe...Tex hosted some big name country singers and led the house band. While working at WYBG I engineered a Saturday morning show for Tex on which he played country music on what otherwise was a rock station. I remember Tex driving a big old Harley! I always wondered what happened to him. The last time I was in Massena (probably 20 years ago), the Diamond Horseshoe was gone.
Apparently, so true! At this link, you can see Montana profiled in the Syracuse Post-Standard in 1982. ("Tex Montana Still Singing Country.")

Back to Massena, New York! On the evening before or after the wedding, the bride and groom escorted their friends to the Diamond Horseshoe, perhaps as a tiny bit of a lark or possibly just for no reason. Montana himself was on stage.

Apparently struck by the bicoastal, "eastern elite" air of the youthful wedding party, Montana launched into a spirited, perhaps somewhat menacing version of Okie from Muskogee. He performed the Haggard anthem as some of the over-educated youngsters attempted to dance.

Alas! A country music-fueled culture war was everywhere at that time, even on the country's farthest northern frontier. In a general sense, this is what James Carville had in mind when he is said to have said, at a later date, that the state of Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.

It might have been better if Carville hadn't said whatever he actually said. But on a strictly cultural basis, this is what he meant—and his "Alabama" carried Pennsylvania in 2016, as was its perfect right.

At any rate, that deeply unhelpful culture war was pretty much everywhere in the summer of 1970. It was splitting region against region, and children against their parents. Bob Dylan had even taken the side of the parents in his heart-breaking Tears of Rage (1967), performed here by The Band:
We carried you in our arms
On Independence Day
And now you throw us all aside
And put us all away...
Major parts of that war never ended. Further fueled by crackpot talk radio and by partisan cable, it exists today in the viewpoints and understandings of the red and blue nations who are devising and embracing talking points for an impeachment war.

Way back then, we got the impression, perhaps incorrectly, that Tex Montana wasn't thrilled by that far north wedding party. What did he possibly think he was seeing on the dance floor before him?

To answer your question, we'll journey far west of Nashville. We'll go all the way to Bakersfield, Merle Haggard's literal home town.

As part of his new PBS film, Country Music, Ken Burns describes the rise of the branch of country music known as "the Bakersfield sound." Its founding father was Buck Owens, a Dust Bowl refugee who was forced to leave Texas with his parents in 1937.

What might Montana have thought he was seeing that night, way up north in Massena? Owens' songs and attitude sometimes reflected the experience of the "Okie" underclass, as in the chorus of The Streets of Bakersfield, a song Owens popularized, though only within one part of the world:
You don't know me but you don't like me,
You say you care less how I feel.
How many of you that sit and judge me
Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?
Haggard's songs sometimes reflected the same type of class resentment. Yesterday, we quoted Rolling Stone praising the Haggard album which came out just before he unloosed Okie From Muskogee on a waiting world in 1969.

According to that Rolling Stone review,
Haggard was "pure country," a performer whose "songs romanticize the hardships and tragedies of America’s transient proletarian." As is clear in interviews in the Burns film, Haggard saw himself as a cultural Okie—as someone whose parents had been derided as same when they arrived in the Golden State during the Dust Bowl years.

One of the songs on the album praised by Rolling Stone was Mama's Hungry Eyes. In a romanticized version of his family's history, Haggard described a certain "class of people," some version of which Montana might have believed he was seeing that night:
A canvas covered cabin in a crowded labor camp
Stand out in this memory I revive;
Cause my daddy raised a family there with two hard working hands
And tried to feed my mama's hungry eyes.

He dreamed of something better, and my mama's faith was strong
And us kids were just too young to realize
That another class of people put us somewhere just below;
One more reason for my mama's hungry eyes.
As of 1970, was "another class of people" putting Tex Montana's class "somewhere below?" Citizens, please! Of course they were, and that has never ceased to be the case, not even to this every day as we sit on the edge of our latest somewhat dumb war.

What's the basis of the nation's tribal divide as we move toward impeachment war? With regard to that question, we plan to visit this interesting recent post, in which we think Kevin Drum fumbles his assessment while laying down an intriguing challenge—but we'll have to postpone till tomorrow.

Many Trump voters, even today, believe that "another class of people" put them somewhere below. In that view, they surely aren't wrong—though this doesn't mean that anything Trump is doing is right.

This powerful, unhelpful divide was floating around all through the Burns film. It helps explain the approaching war for which we see no happy ending.

Tomorrow: Faron Young [HEART] Charlie Pride, or so Burns seems inclined to say

36 comments:

  1. "What's the basis of the nation's tribal divide as we move toward impeachment war? "

    Why, the basis of what you call "tribal divide" is that since the morning of 11/9/2016, your mouth-foaming, agonizing liberal cult has had no other aspiration than to get Donald J Trump, The Best American President Evah.

    It's that simple. And you know it as well as I do, dear Bob; don't be coy.

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    1. Hello everyone i Am williams pater and i am from USA i am here to give my testimony about an herbal doctor called Dr,olu I was heartbroken because i had very small penis,not nice to satisfy a woman, i have been in so many relationship, but cut off because of my situation, i have used so many product which doctors prescribe for me, but could not offer me the help i searched for. i saw some few comments on the internet about this specialist called Dr,OLU and decided to email him on his email i saw on the internet,(drolusolutionhome@gmail.com ) so I decided to give his herbal product a try. i emailed him and he got back to me, he gave me some comforting words with his herbal product for Penis Enlargement, Within three weeks of me use it, i began to feel the enlargement, " and now it just 4 weeks of using his products my penis is about 8 inches longer, and i had to settle thing out with my ex girlfriend , i was surprised when she said that she is satisfied with my performance in bed and i now have a large penis.thanks to DR OLU for is herbal product. you can also reach him with emsil  drolusolutionhome@gmail.com though is..number WHATASPP him today on this number [ +2348140654426 ]   






















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      Delete
  2. Mao, you're such a sad sack. Eagerly waiting for Bob to post, so you can be first in line to post your repetitive, pathetic insults.

    Maybe you're just Hurt somehow. I suppose I should pity you.

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    1. I doubt Mao, our self-admitted Village Troll, is waiting for TDH to post a blog entry. He's probably on a feed. Don't waste your pity on trolls, or your attention. Just don't feet them.

      What Mao wants is a reaction. Why indulge him?

      Delete
  3. Today Somerby describes "another class" of people who are busily putting that young wedding party below them. He describes Merle Haggard and Buck Owens putting their Other a class below because they don't walk around Bakersfield.

    The song Okie from Muskogee reeks with condescension and places one set of cultural habits (white lightning and pitching woo) over those of the people being chastised in the song.

    If Okies feel that they are economic losers and want to improve their self-esteem at the expense of kids with long hair, how is that the kids' fault?

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    1. I’m sure it was less easy to separate the Okies from the Democratic base during the Vietnam War.

      Things have changed.

      Delete
  4. Did Montana view the wedding party, who were paying guests, the way Somerby describes them? Did he feel resentment simply because they seemed to be “over-educated, bicoastal elites?” Who knows. But since he owned a country and western bar in Massena, NY, wouldn’t the patrons, who came there deliberately, *expect* there to be country music? Haggard’s music was big on the charts at that time.

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  5. "And tried to feed my mama's hungry eyes."

    Where do I start with this? Women don't push men to do things by having "hungry eyes". This phrase is a man feeling like a failure because he cannot provide what he imagines his woman wants. Her desires and feelings may be very different than what he projects onto her.

    Men feel they must provide for women, that women are their trophies and if they are not displaying wealth and looking good, then their husbands are lesser men. This idea is part of toxic masculinity. It treats women as objects and places an undue burden on men to compete with each other in ways that prevent men from pursuing their own ambitions and seeing alternative choices in life.

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    1. I grew up poor. I had a panic attack the first time I visited a store like Nordstrom's. I believed the clerks all knew I didn't belong there and were staring at me with contempt. That feeling passed with time and experience. I was then and always have been a Democrat. Trump makes me sick!

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  6. There is something odd about the idea that "another class of people" is holding down the Okies (or red state dwellers) and that those other people are to blame for life's misfortunes.

    No matter how much money you have, there is always someone above you and someone below you on the ladder of economic prosperity. If you resent the people above you and kick down at the people below you in order to feel better about yourself, your life will be hell. But do most people really do that?

    Middle class culture rejected "keeping up with the Joneses" back in the 50s when prosperity after the war created that trap for people who hadn't experienced it before. Perhaps it arises from immigrants who wanted to quickly become part of their new neighborhoods, who thus may have emulated those around them to learn how to fit in? The 60s was about eschewing materialism and "plastic" values about keeping up and fitting in with others. Those weren't the people kicking down at the Okies. Their parents may have been, but the kids in the 60s rejected their parents values too.

    Now Somerby thinks liberals are kicking down at Okies (figuratively) when they object to Trump (who is neither poor nor representing Okie values) but behaving like a crook while pretending to be a billionaire. And most Trump supporters are upper middle class white men, not Okies or people having hard economic times (who tend to vote Democrat).

    Somerby spends a lot of words mocking education and so-called bicoastal elites. These tend to be educated people who fled small towns across America to go where high paying jobs for educated people exist, in large cities. These people are elite because they became "overeducated" and qualified themselves to succeed in a changed economy. They don't kick down at Okies. They fund liberal causes that work with and help those left behind in today's economy. They were the ones ladling soup in today's homeless camps, just as they did in the 1930s when the Okies arrived in CA. Liberals are the ones most likely to care about migrants.

    So it is outrageous that Somerby tries to pretend that liberals are to blame for how Haggard and his ilk were treated on the streets of Bakersfield!

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    1. Could you answer a couple of questions for me.

      Middle class culture rejected "keeping up with the Joneses" back in the 50s….

      Really? Weren’t the ‘50s the first golden age of conspicuous consumption?

      And most Trump supporters are upper middle class white men,….

      Really? Pew set the lower bound for upper middle class as having family income above $118K. A Macarthur Foundation study (https://www.macfound.org/media/files/2016_Post-Election_Study_Agenda.pdf) found that men with incomes between $100K and $150K make up 17% of the electorate. Making up my own crosstabs, let’s assume that 90% of these men were white and 90% of these white men voted for Trump. That’s less than 14% of voters. That’s not enough to come close to a majority of Trump supporters.

      Somerby spends a lot of words mocking education….

      Really? Do you have cites? I’ve never read a TDH piece mocking “education.” I’ve seen him mock educationists running cons on the public, grifters siphoning money from schools into their own pockets, reporters writing badly about education, politicians pandering about education, et al. But that’s different.

      Somerby spends a lot of words mocking … so-called bicoastal elites. These tend to be educated people who fled small towns across America to go where high paying jobs for educated people exist….

      Really? Are these who the bicoastal elites are? I think there is a rural-to-urban brain drain, but that doesn’t mean the ex-hicks become the elites. Are these folks storming the Ivies?

      So it is outrageous that Somerby tries to pretend that liberals are to blame for how Haggard and his ilk were treated on the streets of Bakersfield!

      Really? Is that what TDH is doing? I read him as saying that how Haggard and his ilk were treated explains their attitudes, and liberals should understand that before condemning those folks to the “other” side.

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    2. Haggard early on was an opportunist who later apologized for his early songs that promoted angry feelings in lower class white people. He wrote Okie from the point of view of not himself but his dad:

      "I wonder what dad would think about the youthful uprising that was occurring at the time, the Janis Joplins.... I understood 'em, I got along with it, but what if he was to come alive at this moment?"

      Following it's success (and after not being allowed to release a pro interracial relationship song) Haggard parroted his audience's views on liberals:

      "They don't give a shit what they look like or what they smell like.... What do they have to offer humanity?"

      Such insight!

      Later Haggard matured a bit:

      "I was dumb as a rock when I wrote 'Okie From Muskogee.'"

      "I think we were brainwashed and I think anybody that doesn't know that needs to get up and read and look around"

      Liberals do understand how the lower class have been treated, indeed are the only ones that offer policies to help them. Frankly, Haggard offers a more substantive view - later in his life - than Somerby does.

      To what end is all this handwringing from Somerby? Does Somerby want liberals to get Trumpers to vote for Dems? If not, then Somerby is saying nothing of value.

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    3. 5 seconds on google shows that Trump's demo was broken down as such: 66% have income above $50k and 20% income above $100k and mostly male and white.

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  7. No one would say that the divisions in society in the 1960’s, or what Somerby calls the “culture wars”, were fueled by country music.

    At any rate, he opposes a country-music-listening cohort against a bi-coastal, over-educated elite, and he apparently defines the culture war as the contempt felt by the elitists (read liberals) for the country-music fans (read white working class) and the resulting resentment felt by the latter.

    In reality, it is really just the conservative/liberal divide that manifested itself at that time over issues such as civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and opposition to the Vietnam War. The people who had voted Democrat since 1860 in the Deep South were never liberal, and the Democratic Party was not a liberal party there.

    There is no reason advocacy for civil rights or women’s rights or what have you should have caused non-blacks or non-women to resent anyone, unless that person was already a conservative.

    The split has nothing in reality to do with Somerby’s fanciful notion that liberals became contemptuous of rural whites.

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  8. What is that Farmers Only dating service all about? Doesn't that imply contempt by farmers for city dwellers? Note who is being screened out.

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  9. Somerby is just saying that liberals shouldn’t be so contemptuous of conservatives, like calling them all a bunch of racists.

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    1. I think I speak for all liberals when I say that we are just calling the racists racist.

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    2. There are very few Conservatives that are racists. So few they are statistically almost non-existent.
      Remember not to insult those very few, practically non-existent racist Conservatives, lest they become so mad they re-elect Trump in a landslide.

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    3. What about black conservatives?

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  10. Today, Steve Benen at Maddowblog describes Trump's use of the word "coup" to describe the impeachment process. He quotes Peter Navarro:

    "The Republican added that presidential impeachment would "take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!"

    This argument, that impeachment takes away the voting rights of citizens who voted for Trump, is what Somerby has been saying (before he got on this country music kick).

    Notice that, once again, Somerby is repeating right wing, Trump supporter memes. There shouldn't be any doubt now that Somerby is a tool of the right and not any kind of liberal.

    Today, Somerby repeats the meme that liberals are overeducated bicoastal bigots who have contempt for the salt-of-the-earth folks living in the heartland. No liberal thinks that, not even a very broad-minded empathetic one who admires MLK and Ghandhi and Malala.

    I predict that tomorrow Somerby will work in a reference to Sergeant York. Notice how he never quotes any examples of songs that denigrate those Okies. As I recall the 60s (yes, I was there), songs denigrated the plastic people (who would have imagined that they would freak out in Kansas, Kansas... Minnesota...). Freak out is a good thing, let your freak flag fly. Zappa said it was happening everywhere, which may be what was upsetting those Okies like Haggard, too old to join in but savvy enough to appeal to the parents.

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    1. 1:54

      Can’t you add links? “Maddowblog.” Would never go there myself, unless I were allowed to parse the information leading to the argument being made by you.

      "The Republican added that presidential impeachment would "take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!"

      Who’s the “Republican?” I imagine you could put all of their names into a hat to get that quote.

      “This argument, that impeachment takes away the voting rights of citizens who voted for Trump, is what Somerby has been saying (before he got on this country music kick).”

      That argument is sound. The Constitution was designed that way. The hoi polloi play a fractional role, and your argument doesn’t even take into account the Electoral College, or the fact that only our “elected representatives” are allowed to impeach. Nice trick, that, at the time our Constitution was written, because though the hurdles are very high, they were intended to protect the wealthy Founders. Just like the 2nd Amendment, though it seems “Foundationalists” don’t even know that.

      When Trump mentions “civil war,” does that not give you pause? Does it sound like a call to arms? Do you think that it’s not? If so, why? There are all sorts of dogs out there with their ears perked up to hear the whistle.

      Today, obviously, the hurdles are almost too high for impeachment. In this period, there are political asses to look after, since the Founders had little notion of how Bernays and his ilk would be allowed to influence public opinion. What if the Congress were asked to pursue their Constitutional mandate to impeach? The horror! Maybe advertising will bite them in the ass! And maybe it will. Such a conundrum.

      Seems to me that the real mission of this site is to point out media malfeasance, and its subsequent influence. Why doesn’t Bob focus on Fox? Because why bother? It’s “liberal” messaging that he’s concerned about. Hm. I’m quite sure you’ve noticed that. Or haven’t you?

      “Notice that, once again, Somerby is repeating right wing, Trump supporter memes.”

      Bob is not “supporting” the memes, but rather showing how they’re being used. You haven’t got that yet? Are you Aardvark, or Bat, or Echidna, the one who likes to use clever animal names, rather than posting as “Primate”? I think that’s much more clever, but perhaps you should use “Dumb Primate” instead. If I were to use a species names as a handle, that’s what I’d go for. Because that’s what I am.

      I’m working on it, however slowly.

      Leroy

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    2. Leroy, calm down and read again. I said he was quoting Peter Novarro, who is thus "The Republican".

      You say I said Somerby was supporting right-wing memes. I said he was repeating them. I do not agree that he is analyzing such memes. His language shows that he is advocating them. And Somerby only pretends to analyze media in order to camouflage his right-wing propaganda, as many others have pointed out here.

      I am the person who speculated about how Somerby was going to support Trump against impeachment, and then, true to form, he presented this talking point about robbing the Trump supporters of their votes. And he took that straight from the mouths of others in the right-wing media, as Steve Benen demonstrated.

      I started using a nym and first-thing you criticize me for it. I will tell deadrat that you are the reason I am stopping all nyms. There's no point if it becomes a focus for name-calling.

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    3. “You say I said Somerby was supporting right-wing memes. I said he was repeating them.”

      Fair enough. Except that I never wrote that you “said” that Bob is supporting right-wing memes. If you mean “he was repeating” what the shitboy (Trump) said, I think you have Bob nailed.

      “I do not agree that he is analyzing such memes…”

      Another thing I never said. Look, you don’t have to read between the lines of what I write. But if you really are Echidna, I suppose I did wander rather farther astray than I should have. And of course “Primate” is not a species, but, you know, hyperbole, ok? It’s what makes me so dumb in rational [sic] arguments, especially when legal matters are concerned.

      I rather thought that your name change was quite clever, changing all the time, but presumabley identifiable.

      Please don’t stop using a nym if that reallty is u, Echidna. Go right ahead, use whatever animal you wish. But is it you? If it is, you can stop being so anonymous. Otherwise, you might gather a following who wish to post like you do. Though I’m not sure why.

      Don’t know what set me off. Maybe the tequila.

      Peace. And a nice song. c. 2006 but timely.

      Bon Jour

      Leroy

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  11. Bob Somerby, like some 19th century anthropologist, has traveled, at least in his mind, to the Land of the Trump Voter, and has come to view them in their Native Habitat and to understand them and Their Native Music and their Resentment. More than that, he shows that he is a humanitarian and a True Liberal, because of his sincere, achingly poignant appreciation of This species of Others.

    And all was accomplished through the heroic effort of watching a documentary about Country Music.

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    1. And all [this “poignant appreciation of This species of Others"] was accomplished through the heroic effort of watching a documentary about Country Music.

      Hardly. TDH’s doctrine of not casting political opponents as a species of “Others” long predates Burns’ documentary.

      Are feral Trumpers another species? Quite possibly. The trouble is that they walk amongst us as human.

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    2. They walk among us but they will never vote for Dems. TDH's doctrine has no practical significance.

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  12. It’s too bad that the big bad liberals have shown their contempt for conservatives by having liberal Ken Burns produce a favorable documentary about conservatives’ native country music and then getting it shown on liberal PBS, to be well-received and praised by liberal reviewers.

    The contempt is just breathtaking.

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    1. Did Burns talk about how the conservatives were turned on by Trump's bigotry?

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    2. I hope Burns called it "economic anxiousness". I'd hate to see the Right-wing PC Police bring down a good documentarian.

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    3. Why would anyone in a rural community in America these days have any reason to be anxious about the economy? ;)

      Naw, economic anxiety begats racism and xenophobia. It's a little more complicated than just one of the other.

      https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/09/the-rot-in-the-obama-trump-economy-is-beginning-to-stink

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    4. They see the economic conditions they find themselves in, and immediately blame it on blacks and foreigners. No wonder the rural vote for the "party of accountability". LOL.

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  13. Bob, speaking of "Streets of" songs, don't miss Gram Parsons cover of Streets of Baltimore.

    https://youtu.be/8V4NoboSq6w

    (He is backed by many of same cats that backed Haggard on his Bakersfield joint.)

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  14. Why would there be three different Tex Montana's? Perhaps because appearing to come from the country boosts one's country music career? What other pandering to country sensibilities might be occurring among those who write and sing country music? Might Okie-ness not be as fake as the names of these three men?

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  15. تأسيس الشركات في دبي فريق عمل محترف على أتم الاستعداد لمساعدتك في تأسيس أعمالك التجارية بدبى وبفضل خدماتها المتكاملة، يمكنك تأسيس شركتك بكل سهولة
    للمزيد عن
    الاستثمار في دبي
    الإقامة و الاستثمار في دبي
    الإقامة في دبي
    الاستثمار في جبل علي
    الاستثمار في المنطقة الحرة
    تأسيس شركة في دبي


    ReplyDelete