The Title of the Paper: This 8 page research proposal considers by hbaKk15


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Margaret Parker


Larry Friedman

April 2007

                             History of Country Music

                                  The Beginnings:

       Country Music began August 1, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee, where Ralph

Peer signed Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family for their recording contracts for

Victors Records. James Charles Rodgers known as the father of country music was

born in Meridian Mississippi on September 8, 1897. He worked for the railroad and

then became ill from working so hard that he left the railroad and moves to

Asheville, North Caroline and organized the Jimmy Rodgers Entertainers.

                                    Roy Acuff:

       The king of Country Music is Roy Acuff from Tennessee. By 1933, Acuff

formed a group called the Tennessee Crackerjacks. Acuff made some hits like

“Wabash Cannonball” “The Great Speckle Bird” in the year 1936. During the 40’s
Acuff’s recording became so popular that his hits were the biggest including:

“Wreck on the Highway” (1942), Fireball Mail”(1942), “Night Train to Memphis”

(1943) and so on. Acuff, recognized in November of 1962 when he became the first

living musician to be honored as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

                                  Cowboy Music

       The songs of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the sons of the Pioneers put the

western in Country and Western Music. Much of this music was written for and
brought to the American public through the cowboys films of the 30’s and 40”s and
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was widely popular.

                                        Western Swing

       This is a very popular style of music that blends in with big bands, blues,

dixieland, and jazz and among others.

                                      Honky Tonk Music

       Another style of country music is honky tonk, which has a great influence on

today’s music. A lot of this music is fun to dance to and loves that kind of music and

before you know it, you are separated from your loving ones.

                                      The Nashville Sound

       The Nashville Sound is a blend of pop and country that happens in the

1950’s it was more like big band jazz and swing of the 30’, 40’s and 50’s.

                                       Outlaw Country

       In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the outlaw country music became a more

traditional country sound. Outlaws music merged into the pre-British Revolution

pop culture in different areas.

                                        Urban Cowboys

       During the 1980’s, the urban cowboy music was moving away from its roots.

They were saying that country music was moving more toward pop culture music.

                                  Garth Brooks & New Country

       When the urban cowboy music was a failure a new traditional of music came

and brought the country out of its post-urban cowboy music.

                                    The New Traditionalists

          During the 1990’s country music became more like a country rock: like

 people Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Lee Ann Womack, Gretchen Wilson and many

 more. Some of them talk about their lives. An example of one of them is Gretchen
                            Wilson she puts it into a song.
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                                  Changes Coming On:

       Its been said that country and western music is the expression of all that is

noble and pure in the American Spirit. If this is so, it is indeed a sad and depressed

spirit that haunts the America of today. Since when, one might ask, did abuse,

infidelity, depression and murder gain the status of nobility and purity? For it is

these very subjects that seem to have dominated both the lyrics and the soul of

country music across the past decade.

       Beginning in the early 1990s, country and western superstars began to flood

the contemporary country music charts with a new generation of hot songs that took

traditional themes a step or two further and introduced the field to a new world of

depressing subject matter. In place of the conventional down-on-your-luck or good-

love-gone-bad stories emerged songs that shouted of abuse and betray, whispered of

depression, and hinted at the justification of murder.

       For example, Martina McBride's chart topping hit of the 1990s entitled

"Independence Day". Told through the viewpoint of a child, this song speaks of the

breaking point of a mother's tolerance of abuse at the hands of her husband. This

abuse only ended, along with the life of the husband, in a tower of flames

synonymous with fireworks on the mother's Independence Day. Alternatively, take

as another example superstar Garth Brooks' platinum-selling single of the same era,

"Mama's in the Graveyard, Papa's in the Pen". The title of that particular song

needs no further explanation or clarification.

       This morbid trend in contemporary country music has continued to control

the field of country music, as can be evidenced by the widespread popularity of The

Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl", released in 1999. A storyline involving repeated

abuse, specially seasoned black-eyed peas and a secret trip to the lake with a tarred
bundle leaves little doubt that this is Earl's final farewell.

       Country music has undergone a series of radical changes throughout the past
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two decades, and today's country bears little resemble to the music first promoted

by traditional hallmarks such as The Grand 'Ole Opry and Hee Haw. Straight

country music has been criticize for the "old time" twangs of its arrangements and

the "hillbilly heartbreak" of its lyrics has been considered by many to be a

contributing factor to conditions such as chronic depression (Country Music in the

1930s, 1998; http://xroads. Contemporary country music, can

be criticize for the very same reason. Research conducted over the past few decades

has uncovered possible links between country and western music and not only

chronic depression but also high suicide rates.

                            II. Country Music & Depression

        "I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison, and I went to pick her up in

the rain...but before I could get to the station in my pickup truck, she got ran over by a

damned old train" (Goodman, 1997;

Acushen/songs.html#CALLED). These words, written by Steve Goodman and

immortalized by David Allan Coe in "You Never Even Called Me By My Name",

comprised what their author called "the perfect country and western song" (1997;


// This observation about the inherent

depression and sadness in country and western music is meant as an ironic to take

on the field, but in fact contains a great degree of truth. Country music has

conventionally and consistently dealt with the more depressing factors of human

existence, factors such as dishonesty, misplaced trust, jealousy, and revenge. One

wonders what influence the haunting melodies and compelling lyrics of these songs

might have on an individual who is already contemplating one of the crimes of
passion that are so often their focus.

        Much been said over the past few years concerning the dangerously
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depressing elements of heavy metal music, but little time or effort has been invested

in investigating the same effects about country music. Toward the end of the

twentieth century, however, a number of research teams began to look into the

subject of the connection between depression and country and western music.

These studies, although inconclusive for the most part, have produced results that

hint at the fact that country music may very well be linked to depression in some

cases and that this type of music may also contribute to high suicide rates in others.

                                III. Country Music & Suicide

       During the early part of the 1990s, a series of studies began to focus on any

link that might exist between suicide rates in metropolitan areas and the amount of

airplay that these areas dedicated to country music. In 1992, Stack and Gundlach

published The Effect of Country Music on Suicide, a work based on these studies

that posited the idea that country music does, in certain cases and among certain

subcultures, correspond with higher suicide rates. According to this theory, country

music "nurtures a suicidal mood through its concerns with problems common in the

suicidal population, such as marital discord, alcohol abuse, and alienation from work"

(Mauk, Taylor, White & Allen, 1994; p. 1249).

       Stack and Gundlach elaborated on the fact that a unique and distinct

subculture of country and western music fans has developed in many areas, and

that this subculture is highly affected by not only the content of the music that is

played by local country stations, but also by the amount of airplay this music

receives. This subculture, according to the authors, relates deeply with this type of

music and in many cases their actions are guided and dominated by ideas and

images produced by current popular country songs. Stack and Gundlach further

state that this subculture is similar to a separate and distinct social class and that
the growing numbers belonging to this subculture "reinforces a suicidal mood

conveyed in the themes of country music" (Mauk, Taylor, White & Allen, 1994; p.
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         As stated, however, these study results been deemed inconclusive to come to

under fire from a number of organizations that support the country and western

music industry. The most notable opposition to this theory stems from within the

expanding and networked subculture of country music fans.

         As the twenty-first century progresses, country music will most likely

continue to undergo the changes that took root in the last part of the twentieth

century and may emerge as a distinctly and notably different genre altogether in the

years to come. However, even in a different format, it is likely that country and

western music will retain its inherent depression and sadness, for that is somewhat

like the trademark of the field.

         As long as their pickups, mamas, trains, there will be country music.
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                               Annotated Bibliography

(1998, June 24). Country & Western: Imagining Rural Characters. Country Music

      in the 1930s, (

      Country Music’s image had to represent both the traditional of old time

      music. Early stars like the carter family or John Carson evoked an older


Goodman, Steve (1997, April 21). You Never Even Called Me By My Name. The

      David Allan Coe Page,(

      Coe finally hit the top ten with “You Never Even called me by my name” in

      1975. The song, written by Steve Goodman with one verse inspired by a letter

      Coe sent to Goodman, it was known as the Perfect Country Western Song. It

      includes a narrative in which Coe explains that the perfect country and

      western song has mention Mama or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting


Mauk, Gary W., Taylor, Matthew J., White, Karl R. and Allen, T. Scott (1994, June

      1). Comments on Stack and Gundlach's "The Effect of Country Music on

      Suicide": An "Achy Breaky Heart" May Not Kill You. Social Forces, v72, p.

      1249. The study has some suggestions for the debate on the distribution of

      country music. While country, music has been historically the music of lower

      classes, we found no association between poverty and country music. This

      finding supports the confusion thesis, that country music has mellowed

      across the field of social classes.
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Millard, Robert. 70 Years of America’s Favorite Music. Tennessee: Harper

      Perennial, 1993.

      Country Music spans eight decades of commercial country music from the

      Carter family and Jimmie Rodgers to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline to

      Randy Travis and

      Garth Brooks taking you back to the 20s 30s and 40s and to every year

      from1950 to 1992.

Tichi, Cecelia. High Lonesome the American Culture of Country Music. Tennessee:


      The main influences from the past surely are the instruments and themes of

      the songs inherited from the immigrant’s music depending on the type

      present even until today.

Malone, William. Country Music USA A fifty year History. Tennessee: American

      Folks Society, 1968.

      Country Music in the 1950s is expressive, its ability to offer identity,

      connection, legitimacy, and it potential for clearing, an alternative way of

      casting the world. To the extent that such things matter, they should be

      understood, explain and approved.

Williams, Roger M. Sing a Sad Song The Life of Hank Williams. New York: 1970.

      Hank Williams is one of the most amazing people in history of American

      show business. He was the best songwriter country music has ever produced

      and one of it finest performers.
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Wilson, Gretchen. Redneck Woman stories from my Life. New York: 1973.

      Country Music Gretchen Wilson offers up her rags to riches tale with the

      same storytelling that increases her songwriting and inspires million of fans

      to both celebrate and identify with this self-styled Redneck Woman.

Chase Gilbert. American Music from the Pilgrims to the Present. New York 1770

      The danger, which threatens the American composer, is the tendency to

      accept and be traditional to the standards of the centers of straight and

      designer musical culture and to fail to study out the real nature and

      the musical needs of the American people

Howard, John. Our American Music A Comprehensive History from 1620 to the

Present. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1834.

      In 1939, when Our American Music been in motion for eight years, the

      book added to tell briefly of developments and the many composers that had

      appeared in a short time.

      Since the first appearance of Our American Music many specialists have

      been busy with research in the early days of American’s music.

Scaruffi, Piero. A Brief History of Country Music. Tennessee: 1910.

      The sound of country music in person the history of the USA, it represented

      its genes. As it developed from the 1920s to the 1960s, it simply continued

      to emphasize that “American” element, progressively removing the European

      elements: it sounded less and less like the English ballads and the Irish

      dances that originated it, and more and more like something completely new.
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Steward, Robin. The History of Country Music. Tennessee: 2002

      Today country music is perhaps at it highest peak of popularity-the road to

      success paved by Tubbs, Williams, Wells, and others now treaded by

      mega-stars like Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Reba McIntire, Vince Gill

      In addition, dozens of others who were quote with their gratitude to the

      pioneers of the sound of country music.

BIO Country- Icons of Country Music. 1996 – 2007

      Today’s Country music has climb to more than a century. Modern countries

      roots began in the south in the 1920s. Its tunes and traditions reflect the mix

      in today’s generation.

Country Music: Timeline Patchwork Quilt: Dolly Parton and the roots of Country

Music. 1994. The library of Congress. 1st September 1994.

      Music and stories are hand down generation-to-generation, but popular

      music publishing carries on up until now. The musicians in the first half of

      the century learn by listening and imitating their songs than using music

      sheets. That is the true country music of America.

Country Music. 1967. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Country music is a great category that include several different music.

       Each style is unique in its completing, use of rhythms, and its
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      harmony structures. Country music types are: Nashville sound,

      Bluegrass, Western cowboy music Western swing, outlaw country, honky

      tonk and so on.

Southern Music Network Nashville TN. 1925. Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium.

      The grand ole opry was originally known as the WSM Barn Dance, and

      its opening broadcast was made from station’s small fifth floor studio.

Ellis, Max. History of Country Music in Australia. 2006. Australia’s Country Music


      The article is about a person name Max Ellis who played

      A central role in marketing and promoting Australia

      country music. He was employed for 20 years at Radio

      2TM.He produced “Walk a Country Mile” which tells the

      story of Australia Country Music.

Groll, Bill. Traditional and Classic Country, Honky-Tonk, Rockabilly, Folk,

Bluegrass our true American Roots. 2001-2007.

      In this article is where it covers all the great country roots music. It also got

      the audiences with a experienced musical taste.

Celebrating Pasty

      It talks about the landmarks and the Historical Sites of Patsy Cline.

      Her natural talent and spirit took her to the top of the country charts in
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       1962, and her style and popularity.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum


Its mission is to document the history of country music and to honor its major

figures. Within the building lies the Hall of Fame itself, which consists of plaques

honoring the most famous of country and western music related personalities as

-designated by the Country Music Association .

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