Single Review: Kacey Musgraves, "Merry Go 'Round"

A delicious, absorbing slice of country storytelling, flavored with a strong dose of everyday realism.

While Musgraves has been relatively quiet on the music front in days since her 2007 seventh-place finish on Nashville Star, she has tided fans over with projects such as an excellent collaboration with the Josh Abbott band, while also displaying her ample songwriting chops with standout cuts on recent albums by Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride.  “Merry Go Round” marks her first official solo radio release, with an album to follow later this year.

The quiet, banjo-driven arrangement supplies a beautiful, comforting backdrop to an astute lyric which contrasts idealistic personal and societal expectations with the way life actually turns out.  The course of one’s life is metaphorically described as “this broken merry go round.”  People are expected to settle down, raise a family, “be there in the front row like you’re s’posed to” at church every Sunday morning, only to stumble

and struggle in daily battles with hardship, temptation, and personal demons.  Anchored by an evocative melody and an authentic, lived-in vocal rendering on Musgraves part, “Merry Go Round” is a song that boasts a strong, tangible connection to the realities people face everyday – a country music ideal that seems to have been mostly abandoned by the mainstream.

While I have a hard time believing this song is likely to find a home on country radio, it’s certainly well worth a listen.  If such a finely polished, understative gem as this is at all indicative of the quality of Musgraves forthcoming debut album, we could be in for quite a treat.

Grade:  A



  1. I’ve been loving this since I heard the original demo last year. I love and adore the beauty and subtle message she puts throughout. As for the radio potential, it seems to be off to a good start, debuted at 50 last week ahead of its official release, and its just the kind of quality radio might not be able to ignore.

  2. Who’dathunkit? Two of my favorite five singles of the year are “Mary Was the Marryin’ Kind” and “Merry Go Round”. Two thoughtful songs, this one has quite a powerful chorus that’s hard to ignore. If it sees the light of day at radio, it’ll be a hit.

    Of course, I said that about “So Do You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” and “Neon”, so what the hell do I know.

  3. Good song. The lyrics, written by Kacey with Shane McAnally & Joshua Osborne, made me think of Tracy Lawrence’s “Time Marches On” with the brother on weed and the father with the girlfriend.

    Will it be a hit? Truck No!

  4. …there isn’t a compensation for every dirt road anthem out there, but every now and then there’s a song that makes you actually believe that god hasn’t gone off country completely yet. having said that, if you’re in the business of hope, today’s country must feel a bit like heaven.

    nice pick, ben.

  5. I am honestly amazed with radio today. This song debuted at 50 and now jumped to 42 this week. I hope they catch on to her and don’t let go

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.