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BULL MARKET IN CORN
by Time Magazine
The dominant popular music of the U. S. today is hillbilly. By last week the flood of camp-meetin' melody, which had been rising steadily in juke joints and on radio programs for over a year, was swamping Tin Pan Alley. Big names in the drawling art of country and cowboy balladry like Gene Autry, the Carter Family, Roy Acuff and Al Dexter were selling on discs as never before. Top-flight songsters like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra were making their biggest smashes with hillbilly tunes. A homely earful of the purest Texas corn, Al Dexter's "Pistol Packin' Mama," had edged its way to first place among the nation's juke-box favorites. Even many of Tin Pan Alley's best-sellers, such tunes as "You'll Never Know," "Comin' in on a Wing and a Prayer," "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere," were fragrant with hillbilly spirit. All over the country were the Appalachian accents of the geetar and the country fiddle.
All this constituted the biggest revolution in U. S. popular musical taste since the "swing" craze began in the middle '30s. Public demand was shifting from Afro-American stomps and blues to a much simpler (and often monotonous) musical idiom that was old when nostalgic '49ers were singing "Clementine." Hillbilly music is the direct descendant of the Scottish, Irish and English ballads that were brought to North America by the earliest white settlers. Preserved in the U. S. backwoods by generations of hard-bitten country folk, the old hillbilly ballads are sometimes of rare melodic beauty. But most of them hew closely to a few homely, foursquare formulas. The songs get their quality, if any, from their words—long narrative poems evolved by generations of backwoods minstrels.
BRAKEMAN RODGERS. For years hillbilly music remained a branch of folklore to most urban Americans—if they knew of it at all. But in 1921 a Kansas City-born folk-
"Reprinted by permission from Time, Vol. 42, No. 14, October 4, Copyright 1943, Time Inc."