This IS Country

edited October 2011 in Country & Folk
After GP's suggestion, this thread is for links and discussion about the qualities of Country music.

Johnny Cash playing Merle Travis' "Dark as a Dungeon"


  • edited October 2011
    I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams

    This one spoke to me when I was a child, and it still expresses my sometimes mood today.
  • Since you asked...a few of the good recent (last decade or two) country albums in my library:







    More where that came from...
  • @Doofy, can you suggest a standout track from any of those albums? (I'm game for dipping a toe but not yet looking for full immersion).
  • I am always amazed at the cool stuff on YouTube:

    Jimmie Rodgers - Waiting For a Train. The Original Country Star. The guitar in this video used to be for sale at Elderly's in Lansing, $20K if I recall correctly.

    Carter Family - Wildwood Flower. My grandma had the Sears version of the guitar in this video. It now lives in my basement and is worth just about nothing.

    Hank Williams and Anita Carter - I Can't Help It. Anita is quite taken with Hank, but then aren't we all?

    Chet Atkins and Doc Watson. Two great guitar players....
  • Great picks. Speaking of the Carter Family, this is June doing their Sinking in the Lonesome Sea, a version of the English sea chanty "The Golden Vanity."
  • Sunday Morning Coming Down - Johnny Cash

    Early Kristofferson songs are some of my favorites, and I regularly listen to his first albums. His lyrics are so evocative. Cash was responsible for Kristofferson's first album, giving him the boost that got his career in music off the ground.

    Two of my country favorites - Cash and Kristofferson
  • GP, they are all so different. I imagine you'd like Buddy Miller, if you haven't heard him. This is a very blues/gospel album, almost borderline country. "Don't Wait" would be a track to try.

    For straight-up Country, the Dixie Chicks' "Travelin' Soldier" is a tearjerker. Or George Jones, "Never Bit a Bullet" is a 2-minute cajun alligator stompin' duet with Sammy Kershaw.

    Jim Lauderdale is great, more thoughts/albums later...
  • So does bluegrass fit into C&W

    I have always been enamored with the high tight vocal harmonies and the pulsating back beat of bluegrass.

    Does anybody know this genre
  • Well, this is right up my alley but I'm sick with a bad cold so... I'll just point you to an 8tracks I did trying to whittle down my favourite country songs. Some of them are the actual songs not necessarily the versions I chosen, ie Sea of Heartbreak which has been covered by every man, woman and their dog. There's a heap I love not on there, but its a start.
  • edited October 2011
    I attend some BG jams and know a few prominent players, but I don't consider myself a BG musician at all. In general, I think they are symbiotic organisms more than they are kin. They share many features, most importantly an appeal to a Southern, rural audience. However, Bluegrass embodies practices that are foreign to Country and, in many instances, draw them closer to Jazz (Swing in particular). It also preserves more of the rural music--songs and instrumentals--of early America rather than attempting to create a new Southern music. Many BG musicians cross over into country, and vice versa, but they are always very aware that playing Bluegrass involves respecting strict rules. Ultimately, the two need each other: BG needs country to extend its reach, and Country needs BG to maintain its authenticity.
  • edited October 2011
    This might be a useful comparison: Chet Atkins' Orange Blossom Special and Bill Monroe's Rawhide. They sound similar, but they involve different approaches to music.
  • @jUj - I can only give you my humble opinion. Bluegrass and C&W are related like Swing and Bop, two sub-genres which can cross over but usually do not. I thing BT's example is good, bluegrass really needs to be a full ensemble (banjo, mando, fiddle soloists, guitar and bass for rhythm.) Bill Monroe laid down those rules they have stuck. No drums, no pedal steel guitar. Add those and it is no longer bluegrass. The "style" of a bluegrass session is important as well, there is a traditional form of the song and really a traditional way to preform it. It bothers me to hear Nickle Creek (for example) called bluegrass because they have guitar, Mando and fiddle. They could play bluegrass, but they are more of a folk / neo-folk / pop ensemble.

    When I was a kid, my grandparents made a distinction between Country and Western. Country might be Grand Ole Opry, or Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams (honky tonkin', etc). Western was a cowboy song, so Gene Autry and the like western be "western." Both would make use of guitars and pedal steel, but Country tended to me more "slick" and pop. I think that distinction was lost in the 60's since Nashville produced country blended the two with a little early Rock and Gospel.

    I am pretty sure that modern "country" is pop music with an occasional fiddle and pedal steel. My grandma would call it "pornography" and my grandfather would yell at you to "turn that damn stuff off and get off my lawn."
  • kezkez
    edited October 2011
    @Nank - that's a really super 8Tracks playlist there! Listening to it now. All the individual songs you've included make for a great cohesive whole. I have it playing in the background as I'm surfing, and when Steve Young's 'All Her Lovers Want to be Heroes' began playing a few minutes ago, I didn't recognize the song but I sure recognized the voice. I don't have his album "Lonesome, On'ry & Mean" but it's been on my list to investigate for a long time. You've pushed me to act now and get it. Thanks!

    EDIT// This is a great thread. Very enjoyable and informative.
  • edited October 2011
    Very insightful guys. Don't be surprised if I use this knowledge against you one day ;+)

    I have my clock radio set to come on at the crack of dawn mostly as a reference point for its time to roll over nad pull the cover up for the rest of my nap. Hell, I don't even remember hearing the thing go off for the past month or so.

    But I find it to be very ironic that the last thing I do before going to bed was read this thread and then this morning the clock radio comes on with me fully conscious and I hear this

    Vely intelesting
  • edited October 2011
    - A repost from the Ubuweb Goodies thread:
  • edited October 2011
    Hey, have been away from the computer for a few so this topic I would have a lot to say on has not been addressed. I am a fan of what I consider hard-core country, being honky tonk, western swing, bluegrass, and what inspired that genre the very title of which I despise "alt-country" (excuse me I have to throw up a moment) - that inspiration being people like Dwight Yoakum. I generally do not like that country music from any era which is just pop music dressed up with some fiddle and a steel guitar.
    Unfortunately the best collections I have are on CD so I'll have to hunt up some links later from Amazon. Top of the list would be Routes Of Rockabilly which was on eMu a few weeks before they got wise and puleed a bunch of titles from that label. It really epitomizes that hard edged country that helped give rise to rock'n'roll. EDIT -They no longer have this release - Honky Tonkin' which has a lot of good stuff. Too bad it was good.
    There's some links on page 3 of the Mispriced Box Sets thread for bluegrass box sets.
    BTW if you can ever find the 3 volumes called A Town South Of Bakersfield they were an outstanding series highlighting artists doing what was called "cowpunk" or somesuch back before that "label" I dislike was an itch in its daddy's pants. Produced by Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakum's longtime guitarist and producer) it had country that rocked. I don't even know if they're in print.
  • @ Doofy, thanks. Yes, I'm enjoying the Buddy Miller. Have had very little time of late so haven't dipped any further yet.
  • @BDB: You should check out the Hank Williams, jr. thread. This thread is an extension of our discussion about what makes Country worthwhile.
  • I'll certainly be following up these links. Thanks for the ideas, all
  • Loving the Country discussions. Like to put in a plug for anything and everything by Townes Van Zandt.
  • I think that Townes Van Zandt transcends the narrow confines of "country." Well, I think he transcends alot of things....I am also fond of Guy Clark as a non-country songwriter in the Texas style.
  • Yeah, but I'd rather call him country than (shudder) singer-songwriter. And Nashville's certainly gotten a lot of mileage from him. Transcends is a good word for it - but I think that somebody who appreciated the names dropped here would find a lot to love in him too.
  • edited October 2011
    If we are including Texas here, I am partial to Jimmie Dale Gilmore, but I wouldn't include him in True Country.
  • In my opinion, Country starts as a regional variant of what was otherwise a fluid landscape of American traditional music. However, by mid-20th century it seems to define itself not just as a separate genre: it becomes a hallmark in the formation of Southern consciousness. Recently that has become more entangled with the politicization of the music. Nevertheless, one of Country's most salient qualities is the attempt to define important regional values in response to modernization (rather than opposing it). "My Window Faces The South" (which can be heard here in many versions) evolved from a Jazz song to a Southern anthem, even though it is written from the perspective of an migrant.
  • I found that (My Window) quite interesting BT. A couple of versions even had links to Bill Hayley type Rock n'Roll. I think my 'problem' with country stems from music like that of Jim Reeves and Dolly Parton. which over here examplifies Country and Western - along with what my granmother called Cowboy Music. I'm OK with country rock of late 60s and the 70s - Byrds, for example, but I've never really explored beyond that. I'll give some of the suggestions a try, initially, if I can, via Spotify.
  • edited October 2011
    Greg, and anyone, please check out the link I posted on the Hank Williams, Jr. thread for these 2 releases - oh, what the heck here: Guitar Player Presents Legends Of Country Volume 1 and Volume 2. Whooee, here's a link for Volume 2 from with a full listing of players. I'm going to try to expand on these later (actually have to do some work today). Many of these songs have performances on YouTube, even the grainy '50's TV show clips.
  • LOL - just now saw this. I had fun this morning putting together some of the You Tube videos for Volume 1. Good memories. See the Hank Jr. thread.
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