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Country Music

A Cultural and Stylistic History

Jocelyn R. Neal

Publication Date - August 2012

ISBN: 9780199730599

560 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $62.95

The Full Story of Country Music, Told by a Renowned Scholar


A vibrant introduction to a quintessential American art form, Country Music: A Cultural and Stylistic History is the first undergraduate textbook that focuses solely on country music.

Written by an experienced teacher and renowned scholar of the genre, it offers a coherent narrative that explains country music, its origins, its development, and its meaning from the first commercial recordings of the 1920s up to the present. It highlights significant performers, songs, and institutions in country music. It also considers key social, political, and musical issues that span many decades of evolution within the genre.

Each part of Country Music opens with an introduction that provides a broad sense of the trends, context, and significant elements of country music during a specific period. Each chapter offers three essential features within the narrative:

* Artist Profiles provide a close look at important figures in the history of country music, from country stars to songwriters to industry personnel
* Listening Guides connect specific recordings to the ideas presented in each chapter; end-of-chapter playlists offer suggestions for further listening
* Boxed essays offer in-depth explorations of topics in seven categories: history, musical style, the music business, culture, technology, songwriting, and issues of identity

Country Music concludes with three helpful appendices on song form, country music instruments, and finding the recordings.

A companion website at www.oup.com/us/neal offers chapter summaries, questions for review, and web links.

Offering a thorough overview of a core part of American culture, this compelling and accessible book is ideal as the main text for Country Music courses and as a supplement for courses in American Music and American Popular Music.

About the Author(s)

Jocelyn R. Neal is Associate Professor of Music and Adjunct Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers (2009), which won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. She is the past chair of the Popular Music Group within the Society for Music Theory, and is coeditor of Southern Cultures. In 2012, she was named Director of the Center for the Study of the American South.


"Engaging and well written."--James Harvey, Alvin Community College

"Beautifully written, organized, conceptually defined, and fleshed out with clear detail. This text will be appealing to students and instructors and will 'wear well' over time."--James E. Akenson, Tennessee Technological University

"Well suited for college-level courses. It covers the 'big splashes' of the genre and fills a need for textbooks on the subject. The appendices are golden--especially the appendix with recorded examples."--Keith Cozart, Indiana University East

Table of Contents

    Each Part opens with an Overview.
    Introduction: Heading into the Country
    Country as Genre
    Definition of Country
    Is it Real? Issues of Authenticity in Country Music
    Goals and Themes
    Situating a Performer
    How to Listen
    Getting Started
    PART I: THE EARLY YEARS (1920s & 1930s)
    Chapter 1: The Birth of Country Music
    Musical Sources
    New Technologies: Records and Radio
    Essay (Culture): Radio Barn Dances
    Artist Profile: Fiddlin' John Carson
    The Business of Music
    Essay (Musical Style): Hillbilly Entertainers
    The Performers
    Listening Guide: "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane"
    Artist Profile: DeFord Bailey
    Listening Guide: "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues"
    Listening Guide: "Hallelujah Side"
    Essay (Identity): Women in Early Country Music
    Chapter 2: The Big Bang of Country Music
    Role of the Producer
    Essay (Music Business): Copyright
    Essay (Technology): Making Records in the 1920s
    Listening Guide: "Keep on the Sunny Side"
    Artist Profile: The Carter Family and Its Legacy
    Listening Guide: "Blue Yodel"
    Artist Profile: Jimmie Rodgers
    Listening Guide: "Can the Circle Be Unbroken (Bye & Bye)"
    Contributions of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family to Country Music
    Listening Guide: "Blue Yodel No. 9"
    Essay (Culture): Cover Songs
    Essay (Identity): Race in Early Country Music
    Chapter 3: Innovation and Change
    Barn Dance Radio Shows, Stars, and the Brother Acts
    Essay (Musical Style): Brother Acts
    Essay (Music Business): Sponsorship
    Listening Guide: "The Great Speckled Bird"
    Artist Profile: Roy Acuff
    Western Swing
    Essay (Musical Style): Innovation in Western Swing
    Artist Profile: Bob Wills
    Singing Cowboy
    Listening Guide: "New San Antonio Rose"
    Essay (Musical Style): Singing Cowboys
    Listening Guide: "Back in the Saddle Again"
    On the Brink of World War II
    Chapter 4: Honky-Tonk Heyday
    New Radio Stars
    Essay (Music Business): Forces behind the Scenes
    Country Music Culture in the Postwar Years
    Essay (Technology): A New Era in Recording
    Essay (Culture): Folk, Country, and the Novelty Song
    Honky-Tonk Roots
    Essay (Musical Style): Honky-Tonk
    Essay (Musical Style): Country Boogie
    Listening Guide: "Walking the Floor over You"
    The Louisiana Hayride
    Honky-Tonk Heyday
    Artist Profile: Hank Williams
    Song Comparison: "In the Jailhouse Now"
    Listening Guide: "Your Cheatin' Heart"
    The Honky-Tonk Image
    Honky-Tonk Angels
    Answer Songs
    Artist Profile: Rose Maddox
    Listening Guide: "(Pay Me) Alimony"
    Essay (Songwriting): Songwriting in Nashville
    The Impact of Honky-Tonk
    Chapter 5: The Birth of Bluegrass
    The Origins of Bluegrass
    Artist Profile: Bill Monroe
    Essay (Musical Style): Bluegrass
    Listening Guide: "Blue Moon of Kentucky"
    First-Generation Bands
    Artist Profile: Earl Scruggs
    Listening Guide: "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"
    Essay (Identity): Women in Bluegrass
    Bluegrass Meets Folk
    From Bluegrass to Folk to Commercial Country
    Essay (Culture): Bluegrass Festivals
    Bluegrass as Symbol and Soundtrack
    Listening Guide: "Rocky Top"
    The Relationship between Bluegrass and Country
    Chapter 6: Rockabilly and Teen Romance
    Setting the Stage: The Emergence of Rock 'n' Roll
    Memphis Rockabilly and Elvis Presley
    Essay (Culture): Teenagers and Music
    Essay (Culture): Cajun Country
    Essay (Musical Style): Rockabilly
    Song Comparison: "Blue Moon of Kentucky"
    Rockabilly as Part of Country Music
    Artist Profile: Johnny Cash
    Listening Guide: "Folsom Prison Blues"
    Rockabilly Women
    Rock 'n' Roll and Country Connections beyond Sun
    Artist Profile: Wanda Jackson
    Listening Guide: "I Gotta Know"
    Country Teen Crooners
    Listening Guide: "Young Love"
    Coming to an End
    Chapter 7: The Nashville Sound and Musical Innovation
    Artist Profile: Chet Atkins
    The Stars
    Essay (Musical Style): The Nashville Sound
    Artist Profile: Patsy Cline
    Listening Guide: "Faded Love"
    Listening Guide: "He'll Have to Go"
    The Songs
    Song Comparison: "Take Me In Your Arms and Hold Me"
    Essay (Songwriting): A Professional Writer's Town
    Listening Guide: "El Paso"
    Essay (Music Business): The Country Music Association
    The Second Wave of Nashville Sound Artists
    Making Sense of the Nashville Sound
    Chapter 8: California Country and Country Rock
    Out in Bakersfield
    Essay (Musical Style): Bakersfield Sound
    Artist Profile: Merle Haggard
    Listening Guide: "Mama Tried"
    Artist Profile: Buck Owens
    Listening Guide: "Excuse Me (I Think I've Got a Heartache)"
    Essay (History): "Okie from Muskogee" and Country Music Politics
    Bluegrass Meets Folk-Rock
    Country Rock
    Essay (Culture): The Byrds on the Opry
    Country Rock Branches Out
    California Country
    Listening Guide: "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"
    Chapter 9: Traditionalists and Classic Country
    Essay (Musical Style): Classic Country
    Classic Country's Female Stars
    Artist Profile: Dolly Parton
    Listening Guide: "Coal Miner's Daughter"
    Song Comparison: "Muleskinner Blues"
    Classic Country's Male Stars
    Essay (Identity): Gender in Classic Country
    Artist Profile: George Jones
    Listening Guide: "He Stopped Loving Her Today"
    Listening Guide: "You've Never Been This Far Before"
    Breaking Barriers
    Essay (Culture): The Opry Moves
    Essay (Songwriting): Story Songs
    Essay (Songwriting): Truckin' Songs and the Open Road
    The Duets and Ensembles
    TV and Country Music
    Looking Back on Classic Country
    Chapter 10: Outlaw Country and Southern Rock Rebellion
    The Emergence of Outlaw Country
    Essay (Music Business): Behaving Like Outlaws
    Artist Profile: Willie Nelson
    Essay (Musical Style): Outlaw Country
    Album Exploration: Red Headed Stranger
    Outlaw Country Runs Its Course
    Listening Guide: "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)"
    Essay (Culture): Long-Haired Rednecks, Hippies, and Cosmic Cowboys
    Southern Rock and the Country Audience
    Essay (Musical Style): Southern Rock
    Listening Guide: "Sweet Home Alabama"
    Artist Profile: Charlie Daniels
    Listening Guide: "The South's Gonna Do It"
    Chapter 11: Urban Cowboys, Countrypolitan, and the Reagan Era
    History and Rise of Crossover Country
    Essay (Musical Style): Countrypolitan
    Pop Culture, the Cowboy, and the Country Boy
    Essay (Culture): Country Music on the Silver Screen
    Politics, Economics, and the Appeal of the Urban Cowboy
    New Media and Breaking Down Genre Borders
    The Stars and Songs of Urban Cowboy
    Artist Profile: Barbara Mandrell
    Essay (Music Business): International Country
    Listening Guide: "I Was Country (When Country Wasn't Cool)"
    Listening Guide: "Love in the First Degree"
    The End of Urban Cowboy
    Artist Profile: Emmylou Harris
    Listening Guide: "Islands in the Stream"
    Chapter 12: Neotraditionalists and Remaking the Past
    Countrypolitan Fades
    Neotraditionalist Philosophy
    Essay (Musical Style): Neotraditionalist Recordings
    Early Practitioners
    Essay (Songwriting): Cover Songs Revisited
    Artist Profile: George Strait
    Listening Guide: "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)"
    Artist Profile: Reba McEntire
    Listening Guide: "How Blue"
    Neotraditionalism Takes Root
    Listening Guide: "All My Ex's Live in Texas"
    Co-opted, Conservative, and Commercial
    Essay (Culture): Branson, Missouri, and Country Music Tourism
    Chapter 13: The Commercial Country Explosion
    The Class of 1989 and "New Country"
    Artist Profile: Garth Brooks
    Essay (History): Southernization and Soccer Moms
    Essay (Musical Style): New Country and Country Pop
    Themes in New Country
    Listening Guide: "Friends in Low Places"
    Listening Guide: "Gone Country"
    Stylistic Pendulums and Country Pop
    Essay (Culture): Line Dancing
    Artist Profile: Shania Twain
    Listening Guide: "Any Man of Mine"
    Essay (Songwriting): Songwriting and Sophistication
    The End of the 1990s
    Chapter 14: Alternative Country and Roots Revival
    Defining Alternative Country
    Alternative Country Origins
    Alternative Country Coalesces
    A Broader Definition: Alternative Country as Musical Space
    Artist Profile: Ryan Adams
    Essay (Technology): The Internet Age
    Listening Guide: "No Depression"
    Essay (Musical Style): What Alt-Country Doesn't Sound Like
    Listening Guide: "Suppose Tonight Would Be Our Last"
    Essay (Culture): Gay Line Dancing
    Another Alternative: Bluegrass
    The Impact on Mainstream Country
    Artist Profile: Rhonda Vincent
    Changes in Commercial Country
    Murder on Music Row: The Turning Tide
    Listening Guide: "Man of Constant Sorrow"
    Essay (Culture): The O Brother Phenomenon
    Chapter 15: Into the Present
    Country Music in the Spotlight
    Essay (Culture): Dixie Chicks and Politics
    Listening Guide: "Long Time Gone"
    Listening Guide: "Whiskey Lullaby"
    Return of Roots and Rednecks
    Artist Profile: Brad Paisley
    Listening Guide: "Redneck Woman"
    Americana and Alternative?
    Pop Culture Lays Claim to Country Music
    Artist Profile: Carrie Underwood
    Essay (Identity): Race in Contemporary Country
    Essay (Technology): MP3s Please
    Reflecting and Projecting Meaning
    The Main Themes in Country Music's History
    Looking Forward
    Appendix A: Song Form
    Appendix B: Country Instruments
    Appendix C: Finding the Recordings
    Appendix D: Glossary
    Appendix E: Timeline
    Selected Bibliography