Country, Western & Gospel Music

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be. "There's a Long, Long Trail a Winding"—one of our great war songs—was composed by Zo Eliott, a student of serious composition. It has come to stay with us as a mem­ory of those thousands of homesick American boys away from home for the first time. The man who wrote that song captured part of us and fixed us in the records of time. As far as I know, he never wrote another important song. All songs which plant themselves and take root in the hearts of generations become folk songs clothed in folk myth. It matters little how, when or where they happened.
There is a real difference between folk songs, hillbilly jingles and Broadway hit tunes. When Broadway seemed to be running out of material, some of the smart songwrit­ers decided to make a raid on the virgin soil of American primitive folk song. Today, the air waves are flooded with commercial versions of old folk tunes set to June-moon-swoon rhymes, sung by confection-mike voices accompanied by slick bands. They say that the old mountain nesters are all worked up about it. Radio boys are making hay with the tunes which they inherited with the homesteads of their forefathers. They iron out the tunes in even rhythms and give them a Broadway shellacking with impressionistic French harmonies for night-club bands. It's a modern ver­sion of the carpet-bag tradition. But they all say that you can't turn back history.
Broadway hit tunes are generally assembled. One fellow writes the words, another writes the tune, another may harmonize it, and several other different orchestrators fix it up with tailor-made orchestrations to fit particular bands or orchestras. Then the singer who is induced to sing the new song for the hit parade may so reshape it to suit his or her own voice that the original composer would never rec­ognize his own tune. The success of these Broadway hit tunes is largely governed by their promotion: by the right person, at the right time, in the right place, for the right company. Nevertheless, this field of music has produced so many good songs which have won an enduring place in the hearts of so many people that we would be justified in thinking of them as urban folk songs.
Hillbilly jingles, on the other hand, got going in Nash­ville, Tennessee, on a program picked up by NBC known as