Initially glowing after reading a review of the album he'd worked so long on hard on, Sunrise Coffee, in a prominent music publication, Nashville songwriter Bud Keaton was dismayed to learn that "haggard" was not a compliment.
"I think I got it confused with rugged," said Keaton. "Which is totally me. Not to mention, Merle Haggard's the bomb."
Keaton explained that, in full, music critic Judd Hayes described his music as "haggard and hackneyed." It was the word "hackneyed" that first prompted Keaton to pull up a couple of definitions on his cell phone.
"I was pretty sure 'hackneyed' was a good thing," said Keaton, "but when I looked it up, it didn't sound completely positive. So just to be safe, I went ahead and also looked up 'haggard.'"
It was bad news. Keaton quickly learned that 'haggard' didn't mean gritty, rugged and Merle-like, but, rather, tired, gaunt, exhausted, careworn and disheveled.
"Honestly, my first reaction was, fuck 'em," said Keaton, who noted that he's gotten pretty "haggard" of taking shit from hater musician wannabes. "But then I realized that anyone who'd use that kind of pretentious double-speak wasn't my kind of audience anyway. Those posers can hate on me until they're haggard, too."
In fact, Keaton stated, he found the review itself not only hackneyed but downright cowardly.
"You got something to say, say it straight out," he said. "Don't hide behind fancy words. Tell it to my face."
And telling it straight is exactly what Keaton himself will be doing in his upcoming E.P., Lunchtime Coffee and with Real Folk. Keep an eye out for it early next year.