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Single Serving: psychoSONGanalysis by psychologist
Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT
Song: Every Fool has a Rainbow
Artist: Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard songs have also been an inspiration for this and other original songs from the forthcoming CD by Dr BLT,
From Buck Owens Blvd. to Merle Haggard Drive----like this one:

Merle's Girl
words and music by Dr BLT copyright 2008
Nu Bako Sound Recordings

I would like to take a look at the lyrics of this song in light of the theories of Erich Fromm, who believed that the evolution of Western civilization, and industrialization, in particular, has brought with it, a type of freedom that is inherently accompanied by a sense of alienation.

In the past, we looked to community for a sense of belongingness that cannot be found in individualistic pursuits, such as the illusive pursuit depicted in this Merle Haggard song.

Every fool has a rainbow
But he never seems to find
The reward that should be waiting
At the end of the line/

In the song, the fool embarks upon a journey guided by an empty, illusive dream.  He or she is left waiting and wanting "at the end of the line."  Fromm's appraisal of Western civilization parallels that of individual human development.  It begins with the child being wholly dependent on the adult to meet his/her every need.  As the child grows, the child begins to assert his/her independence.  By pushing parents away, the child gains something---a sense of independence and a pride based on individual accomplishments.  But the child loses the sense of connectedness and familial rootedness that he/she once held.

When the alienation and loneliness that is part and parcel of the freedom catches up with the child (or, as the case may be, society), that child, or that society tries to fill the void with a pseudo sense of connectedness that leaves the individual, or the society, all the more profoundly aware of his/her/its utter sense of aloneness.   
/But he'll give up a bed of roses for
A life filled with thorns
And go chasing after rainbows
Every time the dream is born

Musicians, like Merle Haggard, seem to be all the more absorbed in the pursuit of individually-based dreams.  When their newly discovered freedom finds its way to the corner of Lonely Lane, and Alienation Avenue, such musicians often turn to drugs and alcohol, and find pseudo family systems in bars and at parties.  When the bottom drops out of the false family system, they often self-destruct.

And every fool has a rainbow that only he can see
Every fool has a rainbow and the rule applies to me

If you study Merle's life, you'll find that, yes, the rule does apply to him.  He found what he was looking for, only to find himself drowning in misery.  But over his more recent years, he seems to have found his way back to those important family connections that cannot be replaced.  

Carl Jung suggests that as we move into the autumn of our lives, we begin to find perspective and balance.  We see dreams for what they are, and we value those things that are real gold, not simply glittering fools gold on the horizon.  We find a balance between the need to express our uniqueness and the universality that connects us to every other person.   

Fromm was big on following rainbows---all in the name of often painfully attained personal growth, no matter how illusive our rainbow dreams may be and no matter how empty the pot of gold is, in the end.  Fromm stressed personal growth over the comfort and security that accompanies remaining anchored to one's family and community of origin.  He stressed growth over equilibrium.

Fromm's journey of running away from family, community (and the traditions that hold family and community together ) for the purpose of coming back home in the end, is lived out in the life of Merle Haggard.  
The gold Merle finds in the end is the realization that his dreams, while nobel, cannot compete with the that made him who is was, and is today.


Copyright © 1996 - 2008 The Phantom Tollbooth