Merle Haggard: The Running Kind by David Cantwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an absolutely riveting critical discussion of one of the greatest American singers and songwriters. David Cantwell brings his encyclopedic knowledge and deep love of country music to bear on Merle Haggard's entire career, with just enough biographical details and sociopolitical analysis to provide context. He explores all of the complexities and contradictions of Haggard's populist vision and romantic heart, but what really stands out is his unparalleled ability to write about how the music sounds in a way that crackles and bursts off the pages. Whether you're a Haggard fanatic or a neophyte—or somewhere in between—this is consistently compelling, and often quite funny (though usually darkly so, just like Hag himself). What's more, the prose is as light on its feet as it is substantive. One hell of an accomplishment from one of the best music writers working today.
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