The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard

Hachette. Jan. 2022. 464p. ISBN 9780306923210. $30. MUSIC
In his latest addition to an impressive oeuvre of biographies of actors and singers, Eliot (American Titan: Searching for John Wayne) chronicles the life of country-western star Merle Haggard (1937–2016). Eliot follows Haggard, the mercurial singer known for his outlaw persona, from his rebellious teenage years to his time in prison, through a half-dozen marriages, constant tours, and the pinnacle of his commercial and artistic success. Country music legends such as Lefty Frizzell, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson make appearances, and Eliot interviews Haggard’s family and roadies and recording industry insiders. Details on album tracks and personnel, as well as the songwriter’s craft, add valuable information, as do the chapter notes and bibliography, discography, and list of awards. Those who know Haggard only for songs such as “Okie from Muskogee” will be treated to an in-depth look at a multifaceted performer (he even had a recurring role on TV’s The Waltons) who incorporated his personal struggles into his music. Eliot deftly contrasts the ruthless music business with Haggard’s own human frailties.
VERDICT Likely to become the definitive Merle Haggard biography and will sit nicely alongside Haggard’s own two memoirs.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing