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COUNTRY MUSIC GOES TO TOWN
by
Rufus Jarman
An interesting new development has been observed re­cently in the musical tastes of the peoples of Western Eu­rope, which have given to the world Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Wagner, Verdi and the walzes of Johann Strauss. Now, it appears that European musical culture has taken a surprising and ardent fancy to the works of a new school of composers and performers, who include:
Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys including Grandpap who thumps a hillbilly bull fiddle (or doghouse), while wearing a trick goatee and an old Confederate forag­er's cap—Lonzo and Oscar, a couple of bucolic comics who blow on jugs—a character known as "String Bean," who plays on a five-string banjo and wears his pants down around his knees—and the late "Hank" Williams, a sort of "Irving Berlin of the straw stack," among whose compo­sitions are "Lovesick Blues," "Hey, Good Lookin'," and "Honky-Tonkin\"
In short, Europe has been exposed to—and has taken to— hillbilly and western (American) music. Until compara­tively recent times, this form of musical expression had been confined to the fiddling "hoedowns" in the cabins and one-room school-houses of the Tennessee-Kentucky-Ozark hill country, and to the nasal wailings of cowboys on the lone prairie who, in song at least, are generally solitary and always sad.
Nowadays this homely artistry has gone international. American armed service personnel and this country's ex­panding participation in world affairs have made American "country music" almost as prominent in western Europe as the Marshall Plan.
The same is true, maybe to a lesser degree, in Asia. Last spring, when a series of tornadoes hit areas of Tennessee, numerous Japanese sent inquiries from their native land to
"Reprinted by permission from Nation's Business, Vol. 41, No. 2, February, Copyright 1953, and by permission from Rufus Jarman."
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III