Reading Country Music

Steel Guitars, Opry Stars, and Honky Tonk Bars

Reading Country Music

Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: 72 b&w photographs Published: July 1998

Subjects
American Studies, Cultural Studies, Music > Popular Music

With its steel guitars, Opry stars, and honky-tonk bars, country music is an American original. The most popular music in America today, it’s also big business. Amazing, then, that country music has been so little studied by critics, given its predominance in American culture. Reading Country Music acknowledges the significance of country music as part of an authentic American heritage and turns a loving, critical eye toward understanding the sweep of this peculiarly American phenomenon.
Bringing together a wide range of scholars and critics from literature, communications, history, sociology, art, and music, this anthology looks at everything from the inner workings of the country music industry to the iconography of certain stars to the development of distinctive styles within the country music genre. Essays include a look at the shift from "hard-core" to "soft-shell" country music in recent years; Johnny Cash as lesbian icon; gender, class, and region in Dolly Parton’s star image; and bluegrass’s gothic tradition. Originally published as a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, this expanded book edition includes new articles on the spirituality of Willie Nelson, the legacy and tradition of stringed music, and the revival of Stephen Foster’s blackface musical, among others.

Contributors. Mary A. Bufwack, Don Cusic, Curtis W. Ellison, Mark Fenster, Vivien Green Fryd, Teresa Goddu, T. Walter Herbert, Christine Kreyling, Michael Kurek, Amy Schrager Lang, Charmaine Lanham, Bill Malone, Christopher Metress, Jocelyn Neal, Teresa Ortega, Richard A. Peterson, Ronnie Pugh, John W. Rumble, David Sanjek, Cecelia Tichi, Pamela Wilson, Charles K. Wolfe

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Cecelia Tichi is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and Director of American and Southern Studies at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of High Lonesome: The American Culture of Country Music.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Cecelia Tichi 1

Sing Me a Song about Ramblin' Man: Visions and Revisions of Hank Williams in Country Music / Christopher Metress 4

Blue Moon of Kentucky Rising Over the Mystery Train: The Complex Construction of Country Music / David Sanjek 22

Bloody Daggers and Lonesome Graveyards: The Gothic and Country Music / Theresa Goddu 45

A Musical Legacy, A Way of Life: A Photo Essay / Charmaine Lanham 65

Commercial (and/or) Folk: The Bluegrass Industry and Bluegrass Traditions / Mark Fenster 74

Mountains of Contradictions: Gender, Class, and Region in the Star Image of Dolly Parton / Pamela Wilson 98

Keeping Faith: Evangelical Performance in Country Music / Curtis W. Ellison 121

Girls with Guitars - and Fringe and Sequins and Rhinestones, Silk, Lace, and Leather / Mary A. Bufwack 153

Event Songs / Charles K. Wolfe 188

Country Green: The Money in Country Music / Don Cusic 200

Country Music and the Contemporary Composer: The Case of Paul Martin Zonn / Michael Kurel and Cecelia Tichi 209

"My name is Sue! How do you do?" Johnny Cash as Lesbian Icon / Teresa Ortega 222

The Dialectic of hard-Core and Soft-Shell Country Music / Richard A. Peterson 234

"The Sad Twang of Mountain Voices": Thomas Hart Benton's Sources of Country Music / Vivien Green Fryd 256

Mecca for the Country Music Scholar / Ronnie Pugh 286

Country Music, Seriously: An Interview with Bill C. Malone / Cecelia Tichi 290

Reading the Row / Christine Kreyling 307

The Metric Makings of a Country Hit / Jocelyn Neal 322

"The Voice of Woe": Willie Nelson and Evangelical Spirituality / T. Walter Herbert 338

"I'll Reap My Harvest in Heaven": Fred Rose's Acquaintance with Country Music / John W. Rumble 350

Jim Crow and the Pale Maiden: Gender, Color, and Class in Stephen Foster's "Hard Times" / Amy Schrager Lang 378

Selected Discography 389

Notes on Contributors 395

Index 399
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2168-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2156-9
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