Nat Hentoff's blurb on the back of Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians sums up Peter Guralnick's work in 20 words or so, "Indispensable...The chapter on Merle Haggard is as if Chekhov had filed a report from Harrah's in Lake Tahoe."
The Chekovian Haggard chapter to which he refers took place in 1978 in Merle's suite at the Lake Tahoe casino. Haggard's marriage to Bonnie Owens was dissolving. He needed her signature on some divorce papers so he could marry his other back-up singer, Leona Williams. Hentoff's connection between Guralnick's fly-on-the-wall style and Chekhov's aptitude for perception and subtext is on the mark.
The late Hentoff called Guralnick a "national resource." He's a GRAMMY-winner, an acclaimed author, and a genuine Merle Haggard fan. We spoke earlier this month for WKCR's Merle Haggard Memorial Broadcast & Birthday Celebration. The interview originally aired April 6, 2017.