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Kind," recorded it, and sold several hundred thousand copies.
All of which would seem to indicate no more than a healthy trend which will improve the music level of our times. But unhappily for Broadway there is another element in the picture—the hitherto harmless city of Nashville, Tenn., where the "Waltz" comes from.
New Yorkers have long been blissfully unaware of the fact, but this country contains two great song-buying areas. One is the city field, which goes for "pop" songs from Tin Pan Alley, Broadway shows, and Hollywood musicals. The other is the country field, the territory outside cities, especially in the South, where music is taken more seriously than anywhere else. Music enjoyed in this vast area consisting of all types of hillbilly, mountain, Western and old-time folk tunes, jumbled together under the encompassing name of country music. It is sung by singers like Roy Acuff, Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Jimmy Wakely, Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams and others whose names are unknown in the city field but are bywords in the country.
Indeed, the financial success of top country singers has aroused the envy of city folk. "Those fellows used to come in to see me in full country regalia, holding onto their own git-tars," says one song publisher bitterly. "Now when I see them, they wear flannel suits I can't afford and behind them is some stooge carrying that git-tar in a lizard-skin case."
Finding the "pop" field unable or unwilling to supply them with new songs, country singers went ahead and wrote or searched out their own. Then they sang, recorded and published them. The center of this activity inevitably became Nashville, for it is the home of a fabulous radio program called "Grand Ole Opry."
Non-Southerners who have heard the nation-wide broadcast of "Grand Ole Opry" on Saturday nights may think they know this institution-passing-for-a program. They don't. The nation-wide Opry, emceed by Red Foley, is Opry at its most decorous. The real thing runs for six solid hours —6 P.M. to midnight—and country music fans travel from Texas, Virginia, and even Pennsylvania, to jam the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for the fun.