hank williams

-died in 1953 in Oak Hill, VA (he was 29)

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-“Lovesick Blues”

-“I’m so lonesome I could cry”

-“Your cheatin’ heart”- hank and audrey both suspected eachothers infidelities

-combined shouting, empathetic quality of acuffs voice with tubbs’

-electrifiying stage presence

-recording career lasted 6 years recording 66 songs- 37 were hits

Lefty Frizzell

-Only real competition for hank williams

-had a way of bending and sliding vocally that had a huge impact on country music

-honkytonk music

-“If you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time”

-born William Orville, nicknamed Sonny


Honkytonk music

-songs were often trying to elicit a chuckle

-party music

Cowboy jack clement
helped produce charley pride
Hank Snow

-from nova scotia

-good enough at guitar that he could have made a living as a session player (rare in country music)

-The “singing ranger”

-“I’m moving on”

Nudie “The rodeo Tailor” Cohen
-gaudy and heavy outfits made for all the big country music stars
Webb Pierce

-had a car with horns, guns, silver dollars;

-honkytonk style- songs about alcohol, twangy

“there stands the glass”

-went down when elvis exploded- tried to revive career through rock n roll and failed miserably


Hank thompson

“the wild side of life”- #1 for 30 weeks

-was a blaming song which blamed a woman who had fallen on hard times

-female singers not given a chance bc twangy males in gaudy suits worked

-led to the answer song by kitty wells

Kitty Wells

-“It wasn’t God who made honky tonk angels”

-answer song to “The wild side of life”- blew it out

– written by JD Miller and flipped the lyrics

-first #1 country song by a woman

-as influential to women as jimmie rodgers was to men

-known as the “queen of country music”


-sounds older than country bc its primarily acoustic

-invented at the Opry in 1945

-Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys- earl scruggs in that band

-usually 3 people that sing well- “stacked and tight” harmonies


Earl Scruggs

-poor growing up in NC, but played banjo all the time

-“frailing”- a very percussive way to play banjo- made alot of noise but wasn’t complex- played with 3 fingers and his thumb- “scruggs style banjo”

-everyone began to play like him

-“Heavy Traffic Ahead”- Blue Grass Boys

-Later started Flatt & Scruggs with Lester Flatt and became more popular 

-Louise Scruggs was first female manager

Louise Scruggs

-flattest voice ever

-ran earl’s business

-earl and lester different opinions

-earl who invented bluegrass was open to innovation

-louise was a force for this transition

Jimmy Martin

-Born in TN

-idolized jimmie rodgers

-liked to infuse country in his bluegrass

-member of the Blue Gras Boys

-great front man like mick jagger

The Osborne Brothers

-Bobby played mandolin ; sonny played piano

-brought a drummer and 3rd harmony singer on tour

-introduced steel guitar to blugrass


-“Rocky Top”

The Seldom Scene

Influenced by Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers

-biggest bluegrass influence on Kenny Chesney

J.D. Crowe

-played banjo

-recruited ricky scaggs, and jerry douglas, who reinvented the dobro- elegant and sophisticated way of doing so

-started JD Crowe and the New South

-Had a knack for picking talent- Tony Rice- had a smoky voice with an elegant playing style


Folk Music

-smart, socially conscious- late 50s early 60s

-Flatt ; Scruggs ventured here but Monroe didn’t

-young people made up the audience

-Osborne Bros, New Grass Revival, and The Seldom Scene were important figures in progressive bluegrass, tweaking its sound

Emmylou Harris

-women did not sell alot of records bc blugrass players were staunch traditionalists

-recruited ricky scaggs, tony rice, and jerry douglas for her Hot Band

-wanted to do a bluegrass album at height of career

-Roses in the Snow- bluegrass album fronted by a woman

-put her foot down despite protests from Warner Bros- album went gold

Alison Krauss

-Grew up in champagne, Illinois

-fiddle player

-recorded first album by 15

-Second album called “Everytime you say goodbye”

-After starting shy, she developed stage presence

-found new audiences who hadn’t listened to bluegrass bc of her distinctive sound

Elvis Presley

-from memphis- used to drive a truck for $40 a week

-sam phillips heard a demo he made- made him sing a pop song and it was bad- he stuck with elvis and had him singing ballads bc rock n roll didn’t exist yet- went to Sun Records to record

-Began to mess around with The Blues- Beale Street was where R&B was popular

-“That’s Alright”- in this moment, everything changed- such a different sound and started rock n roll revolution

-country goes into decline bc of rock n roll

-artists respond by trying to emulate rock- most fail but some work as in case of rockabilly


-Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, etc.- considered rockabilly at first

-combined rock n roll and country

Wanda Jackson

-successful rockabilly artist

-from oklahoma

-gregarious on stage, like elvis

-“Let’s have a party”


Johnny Cash

-Grew up in Arkansas- rough childhood working in fields

-no drummer so he used the paper trick on the fret board to make it click

-guitarist was Luther Perkins- played things everyone could play, but that nobody had thought to play

-Johnny Cash and the Tennessee 2 became the 3 when added Fluke Holland as drummer

-“Folsom Blues” was their first hit

-Cut first version of “walk the line” slow, but sam phillips insisted he do a faster one- #1 hit

-Sun Records was small then- Sam Phillips sold Elvis to RCA to fund Cash

Ken Nelson

-producer, produced sonny james “young love” which became a #1 pop hit-helped save country music even though it didn’t sound like country

-money was made so other record companies followed

-“A white sport coat & pink carnation” – George Hamilton IV- directed to 17 year olds and sounded like pop as well

-angered traditionalists but gave country shot in the arm

-new sound became the Nashville Sound

The Nashville Sound

-new polished sophisticated sound in response to rock n roll

-this angered traditionalists- many complained that it all sounded the same

-this was bc the same session musicians played everything and got rich

Patsy Cline

-Raised in virginia- grew up idolizing pop and semi classical singers

-led a short life of trouble- died in a plane crash

-“Crazy” written by Willie Nelson

-went back to studio shortly after a near fatal car crash to record it- couldn’t take any time off

-no fiddle, instead used acoustic bass and a piano

-part of Nashville Sound

Ray Charles

-in 1962 he enters country scene- recorded country album called “Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music”

-had a sophisticated and urban audience

-“I can’t stop loving you”- Don Gibson cover made very soulful

-Was called “The Genius of Soul”


Eddie Arnold

-personable which made him appeal to large audiences

-main performer before, during, and after Nashville Sound

-Good businessman that was smart with real estate

-“Making the World Go Away”

Ray Price

-danceable, drinkable, fightable music

-“Heartaches by the Number”

-knack for finding young songwriters

-heard a song called “City Lights” by young Bill Anderson- recorded it and became a #1 hit

-returned to chart prominence in 1970 with “before good times”- written by kristofferson- smooth with strings but no fiddle sound

Bakersfield, CA

-provided counterpoint to Nashville Sound (reaction to)

– not the opposite but definitely different

-very exciting with twang and an edge

-Westernmost country town

-Western Swing big deal here back in the day

Buck Owens

-wanted a high treble-y sound

-first glimpse of buck was on the show “hee-haw”

-wasn’t impressive then bc he was a goofy kid at the time

-yoakam in the 80s helped bring buck back by recording a song with him

-“Act Naturall” written by Johnny Russell

Buck Owens and the Buckaroos

-Name suggested by bandmember, Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard

-Unlike Johnny Cash, had been to prison not to perform

-Saw Johnny perform in prison & found a purpose for life

-signed with capital records

-voice changed alot bc of drinking and smoking- loud and fresh at first, in 80s was whiskey smoothed and dropped alot

-“Okie from Muskogee”- most popular

-“The fightin side of me”

-stereotypical right wing stuff in songs

Charley Pride

-Sledge, MS

-slim chance of being country star bc of race

-played minor league baseball before returning to dream

-met Cowboy Jack Clement who vouched for him

-dismissed by most in Nashville bc of segregation

-Best live country live album ever- Pride Live in Fort Worth, Panther Hall

-“Is anybody going to San Antone”

-Darius Rucker 1st black country artist to have a #1 since

Loretta Lynn

-from Butcher or Web Hollow, KY


-Song “Coal miners daughter” changed the name of the town

-when she was recording, no woman was recording in country much less writing

-true feminine viewpoint

Tammy Wynette

-dirt poor single mother of 3

-kept a cosmetology license throughout singing career

-from mississippi

-powerful voice

-married george jones

-“stand by your man” – wrote with Billy Sherrill

-many people didn’t like the meaning of the song and though it was quite hypocritical

Dolly Parton

-raised in poverty and dreamed of moving to Nashville

-walked into Chet Atkins office, unsolicited and said someone is going to make a lot of money off me

-first country artist to have 50 top ten country singles

-first country artist to be worth 500 million

-1st country artist to appear on the cover of playboy

-“Coat of Many Colors”- an autobiographical song

Bob Dylan

-some time ago people believed if you were conservative you liked country and if you were liberal you liked folk 

-Bob dylan then recorded 3 songs in Nashville

-bluegrass meddled with folk in the 70s

1972 when Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Started in Nashville

-Album- Will the Circle Be Unbroken

-roy acuff did not want to record on this album bc they had long hair

-Roy acuff, mother maybelle, doc watson, jimmy martin all on the album

-transcended all barriers- represented a healing of country music across political lines

-“Will the Circle be Unbroken”- Carter Family song from the Bristol Sessions