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Country
The Music and the Musicians
By Paul Kingsbury, Alan Axelrod and Susan Costello, Editors
Country Music Foundation
1994
432 Pages
ISBN:  1-55859-879-0

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When the 36th Annual Grammy Awards aired from New York's famed Radio City Music Hall in March 1994, Wynonna Judd, Clint Black, and Garth Brooks were among the roster of performering stars. In contrast to the top pop rockers, each of these stars had been recording individually less than five years, but each had debuted with miion-selling albums. Garth Brooks was a multi-platinum wonder who emerged as the biggest record-selling phenomenon since Michael Jackson.

A younger audience was discovering in these performers what confirmed fans of country music had learned long ago: Here is a uniquely American, extraordinairily, varied music that is many things to many people— a rich expression of rural tradition and folkways, a down-home good time, the lyric poetry of love and betrayal, of honky-tonk fantasies and workaday realities, a different kind of jazz—"swing" moved west and south—and a very different kind of rock.

Commercial country music began in the 1920s with such immortals as the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, flourished during the 1930s on radio "barn dances," and really hit the Top 40 charts with the likes of Gene Autry and Bob Wills in the 1940s, and Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Ernest Tubb, Hank williams, the early Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and the "rockabillies" through the '40s, '50s, and into the 1960s. Since then, country has spawned a host of idols and superstars, including Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Alabama, Ricky Skaggs, and Randy Travis, as well as sensational younger performers. The stories of their struggles and triumphs are colorful and poignant dramas.

Country also takes us inside the business of country music, where we meet legendary starmakres as well as songwriters from the great to the nearly forgotten. Speical illustrated sidebars explore such topics as the radio barn dance, the anatomy of Dolly Parton's tour bus, and the burgeoning Branson scene. Also included are Garrison Keillor's recollections of the Grand Ole Opry and a concise discography of country's greatest recordings.

The world's center of country music study, the Country Music Foundation, Nashville, Tennessee, has brought together the leading authorities in this varied field to write a ground-breaking, comprehensive, critical and popular history of the music and musicians—the pickers, slickers, cheatin' hearts, and superstars. Encyclopedic in scope and lavishly illustrated by 500 color and black-and-white photographs from the Foundation's unsurpassed archives, Country is sure to score a solid-gold hit with any fan.

  • The Authors:
    Patrick Carr, Chet Flippo, David Gates, Douglas B. Green, Paul Hemphill, Bill Ivey, Michael McCall, Edward Morris, Alanna Nash, Robert K. Oermann, Robert Palmer, Nolan Porterfield, Ronnie Pugh, Neil Rosenberg, Nick Tosches, Ken Tucker, and Charles Wolfe.