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Merle Haggard: The Running Kind

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Merle Haggard has enjoyed artistic and professional triumphs few can match. He's charted more than a hundred country hits, including thirty-eight number ones. He's released dozens of studio albums and another half dozen or more live ones, performed upwards of ten thousand concerts, been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and seen his songs performed by artists ...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published September 15th 2013 by University of Texas Press
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Chris Cole
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked the way he weaved a little history and geography through the lyrics and songs of Merle Haggard. Fun read if you’re a Merle fan.
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the sort of critical book I wish we found more often - it's not a biography, though it has biographical details. It's a thoughtful examination of the music itself, and it's place in American life. Cantwell has clearly listened closely to everything Haggard has ever sung, and his ability is impressive to get past the surface of these songs and into the nuances and contradictions of them. He'll make you want to hear records you don't know, make you want to hear ones you do know in a new ...more
Danny Alexander
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Much more than a great book about a country music legend or a working class icon, The Running Kind is, first and foremost, a book about a musician and his artistic choices. When those artistic choices are being made by Merle Haggard, they are choices that define the hardest questions at the heart of the American identity. When those choices are being written about by David Cantwell, they are a series of revelations, like the sort of all night discussion that has you waving off the sunrise. ...more
Lauren Ingraham
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was really blown away with this book and how it got to me in personal ways even though I didn't know much about Merle Haggard before reading. I think David Cantwell beautifully writes about music and artists in a way that makes their story a part of everyone.
David Kintore
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's not easy to write well about music, but David Cantwell has done it superbly here for Merle Haggard. Cantwell immerses himself in Haggard's lyrics and this enriches the book, keeping it authentic and grounded in Haggard's life. After reading the first few chapters I couldn't resist seeking out Merle's early albums 'I'm A Lonesome Fugitive' and 'Branded Man', which still sound superb today.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Everything you want to know about Merle Haggard !
Jack Wolfe
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Merle Haggard was difficult. He never quite squared with popular notions of what was tasteful, musically or politically, which might explain why I heard so little of him even as I grew up in the country-inundated suburbs of Texas and Oklahoma (we were a Garth Brooks family through and through; and, as liberals, more inclined to dig the progressive classic sounds of Willie and Cash). But "difficult" often makes for good music, and it definitely makes for good reading in Cantwell's intelligent, ...more
Eric Schumacher-rasmussen
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Haggard has always been a touchstone of my life. On the day my parents brought me home from the hospital in August of 1971, my father propped me up on the couch and sang me every Merle Haggard song he knew, which is to say, all of them. He said that I needed to get used to them, as I would be hearing them a lot. From that time on, Hag's music has been one of the ways my father and I relate to one another; it was one channel of communication that was always open for us even when teen angst and ...more
Betsy Phillips
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I cried at the end of this book, which was not really what I was expecting from music criticism. But it's a really beautiful book and Cantwell is, as ever, such a lovely writer and the ending, with Haggard just destined/cursed/blessed to be Haggard all the way, just hit me right in the feelings.
Chris Craddock
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
This was an awesome book that went over Merle Haggard's career, talking about his music. It only brought in biography where it had bearing on his music. He had a very good assessment of the highs and lows and the cultural currents that affected Merle.
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans rather than casual readers
Recommended to Brent by: Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
Merle deserves this scrutiny, but, dammit, also deserves footnotes.
This is more career criticism than biography. Still, it's about great stuff, and well written.
Recommended, with caveats.
Jon D
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every bit as good as I expected it to be - a model for how to write about country music.
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“All those train songs, all that running... Merle never ends up anywhere any better. But he does get gone.” 0 likes
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