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modestly. "We didn't plan it," executives say. "It just grew. All we did was let it grow."
Meanwhile, Nashville's music industry gets the long look down the nose from many a Nashvillian who wants his city of colleges and universities to retain the title, "Athens of the South."
The late "Uncle" Dave Macon, a genuine folk singer and an Opry star since the early days, positively didn't study music at Peabody College. But he most certainly was a colorful factor in the amazing spread of country music.
In 1939, WSM officials told Uncle Dave he would have to leave his beloved Cannon County hills for a trip to Hollywood, to help make a picture with a Grand Ole Opry background. He fingered his white goatee and shifted his five-string "banjer" under his arm.
"Where's the money at?" he asked WSM's Harry Stone.
Stone explained that Uncle Dave would have to pay his own expenses to California. The old boy turned to his son, Dorris. "Boy," he said, "go to the bank and git me a sackful of money."
Dorris returned with a sackful large enough for a man to carry over his shoulder, and it went to California with the following: two banjos, a small suitcase containing a change of clothing, a large country ham and a butcher knife.
The old man sliced from the ham three times a day, explaining: "I heard tell it takes two weeks to get to California—and we shore will need something to eat."
Young whippersnappers like Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Hank Williams and Carl Smith are typical of the present-day country musician. Tubb, a Texan, wanted to be like Jimmie Rodgers. So did Snow, a Canadian. So did Williams, an Alabaman. All are Opry stars. All were in the $100,000 to $200,000 income last year.
"Jimmie Rodgers was beyond compare," Tubb says. "There'll never be another like him."
Williams, typical of the group, is long, lean, sad, poetic— and has lived the kind of life he sings about. A boy when the Depression hit, young Hank sold peanuts to railroad workmen, shined shoes and listened to Rodgers sing such