For the first time, here is a book that tells the whole colorful
history of America's other music. There have been many volumes
published about jazz, Tin Pan Alley, blues and show tunes.
But never has a book been devoted solely to words and pictures
about the exciting 40-year developments in country and Western music.
In no other area of American popular culture have elements of
show business, religion, comedy, sentiment and circus been so
Vaudeville never died. It moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
The medicine show, whose glib salesmen hawked patent remedies for
every ache and pain of body and spirit, never died. It just moved
The Minstrel show, with its outrageous jokes strewing corn in
every comic exchange, never died. It scrubbed the paint off its face
and moved to Nashville.
Nor did the great American rural tradition of homemade music die in
mountain shacks or at ranchland campsites. Just as the Industrial
Revolution moved handicrafts from the hearth to the factory, so have
the fiddle tunes and ballads moved to the music factory called Nashville.
So begins the fascinating story of country music. Here is the
history of country music: its origins, its varieties, its stars and
innovators, and all the other features that have made country music
the most popular music in America today. To complement the text
are literally hundreds of photographs of musicians and
Here is the colorful world of country music from the
old-time rustic music to the Nashville Sound. Here is the great
Jimmie Rodgers, who in his brief career gave form, shape and content
to the music of the hillbilly and laid the foundation for commercial
country music; the Carter Family, whose style of close-harmony
singing set the style for dozens of groups to follow; Roy Acuff,
who bears the title of "The King of Country Music" with a humility
rare to most royalty; Woody Guthrie, who has probably told more
city people about country people, than any other performer;
Hank Williams, whose tragic life ended at 29 but whose records
and songs are ever popular; Johnny Cash, who is so versatile
that he can move through blues, railroad songs, ballads, hymns,
"story" songs, love, and Western songs with equal ease. Here also
are the fabled singing cowboys such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers
who left their stamp on the movies of the 1930's; Flatt and Scruggs,
the Bluegrass greats; and the style-setters who have recently
reached stardom, such as Chet Atkins, Roger Miller and Buck Owens.
The romance of early radio brightens the story, for country music
has been a factor in rural broadcasting since the days of
carbon microphones and crystal sets. The "Grand Ole Opry," that
marvelously colorful show, was first broadcast in 1925. It is still
going strong, reaching some 10,000,000 loyal listeners every Saturday
Many of the songwriters are talked about and pictured. Some of them
are famous as performers, such as Johnny Cash, Hank Williams,
Jimmie Davis, former governor of Louisiana, and Roger Miller. Others
are best known as songwriters, such as Marie Travis, Aunt Molly Jackson.
Lefty Frizzell, Carson Robison. Dorsey Dixon and Jimmie Driftwood.
The Country Music Story is a must for all country and Western
Robert Shelton is the former folk and country music critic
for The New York Times and has been observing the country-music scene
at first hand for many years.
Burt Goldblatt is a designer, illustrator and photographer. His
paintings on music were exhibited in Washington, D.C., and by
the U.S. Department of State in five European countries.